EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a game when Drew Brees didn’t throw a touchdown and NFL leading receiver Michael Thomas was limited to four catches, the New Orleans Saints won with other options — Alvin Kamara and a defense that didn’t live up to its much-maligned status.
Kamara ran for three second-half touchdowns, Will Lutz matched his career high with four field goals and the Saints’ defense shut down the New York Giants after giving up an early touchdown in a 33-18 win on Sunday.
“This was a complete game, everything came together,” said Kamara, who ran for 134 yards and scored on runs of 9, 4 and 49 yards. “Lutz making big kicks, those were as big as anything. The defense came up big, the O-line did a great job. That was the big difference. You know, the running game has been building. I just get behind those big guys and we get some big runs.”
The win was the third straight for the Saints (3-1) and it sent the offensively inept Giants to their third loss in four games under new coach Pat Shurmur. New York is averaging just over 20 points — 27 came in the win at Houston — and this was a season low.
“It seems like it shouldn’t be this hard but it is,” said New York star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. “We got to come with the energy like our game last week. It’s not one person doing this or one person doing that. It’s got to be everybody. We’ve just got to stick together It’s definitely not the results we want, the outcome. It’s not the way we want to play.”
If there was a surprise, it was the Saints’ defense, which came in ranked 30th in the league. After giving up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Sterling Shepard on the Giants’ opening drive, New Orleans limited New York to a 33-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas in the third quarter and a late 1-yard TD run by Saquon Barkley , followed by a 2-point conversion pass from Manning to Shepard.
The defense allowed only four plays of 20 or more yards after giving up 37 points in an overtime win over Atlanta last weekend.
“What pressure would there be on us?” said Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. “There was no place to go but up. We talked about trying to get better as a defense and we take every game as a challenge.”
The Saints certainly met this challenge.
The anticipated shootout between the 39-yard old Brees and the 37-year-old Manning never materialized.
Brees, who came in needing 418 yards passing to break Peyton Manning’s NFL career mark, finished 18 of 32 for 217 yards. Manning was 31 of 41 for 255 yards as the Giants (1-3) finished with just 299 total yards.
“We got off to a good start, had a good drive,” Manning said. “We thought we’re capable of moving the ball and making plays on this team. We just weren’t able to do it. ”
Lutz connected from 42, 34, 37 and 26 in the first half. Kamara stretched the lead to 19-7 with 9-yard run that capped a nine-play, 69-yard drive on New Orleans’ opening possession of the second half.
The 49-yard run capped a 97-yard drive for the Saints after Ted Ginn Jr. bobbled a kickoff following the Barkley score. The Saints had drives of 74 and 80 on the other touchdowns and finished the game with 392 total yards.
Rosas closed the gap to 19-10 in the third quarter, but the Saints took control with Kamara’s final two TD runs in the fourth quarter.
The Giants had scored on the opening possession with Manning capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive with his short TD pass to Shepard. After that, New York gained 22 yards the rest of the half.
Saints coach Sean Payton used backup quarterback Taysom Hill in a number of roles. He completed a 10-yard pass on a fake punt on New Orleans’ second possession. It set up Lutz’s first field goal. He also threw an incompletion on a red zone pass, had four runs for 28 yards, and returned a kickoff for 16 yards. Coming into the game, he had not thrown a pass and had three rushes for 39 yards.
Saints: No injuries were announced.
Giants: Beckham finished the first half in the locker room getting an IV. He returned in the second half and finished with seven receptions for 60 yards.
Saints: Home against Washington for a Monday night game on Oct. 8.
Giants: At Carolina next Sunday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)