Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Saints
October, 27, 2013
By Mike Triplett | ESPN.com
NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 35-17 victory against the Buffalo Bills, which moved them to 6-1.
What it means: Oddly enough, the Saints' offense started a little slow and sloppy in this one. Yet it still wound up with 35 points and five touchdown passes from Drew Brees. It was just the latest reminder of how potent and “quick strike” the Saints are -- especially when the defense is helping them win the turnover battle 3-0.
Tight end Jimmy Graham played a limited role, but still made a big impact with two touchdown catches. Receiver Lance Moore had a touchdown catch in his return from a hand injury. And rookie Kenny Stills had his biggest game to date with three catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Brees completed passes to 10 different receivers.
Stock watch: There was never any doubt that Brees had faith in Stills after the fifth-round draft pick had a breakout performance this preseason. But that trust is only growing. For the second game in a row, Brees heaved up a deep ball into the end zone on a third-and-20 play, and Stills went up and got it in tight coverage. This time it was a 42-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter to help seal the game.
So much for read-option: The Bills ran a read-option play on the first snap of the game. And Saints linebacker David Hawthorne promptly snuffed it out with a big hit on quarterback Thad Lewis that forced a fumble and appeared to cause a rib injury for Lewis. That was pretty much it for the read-option offense Sunday. But the Saints will see plenty more of it to come with San Francisco, Seattle and Carolina (twice) on the remaining schedule.
Saints pass-rushers Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette also forced fumbles on sacks later (one recovered by New Orleans, one by Buffalo).
Up next: The Saints head back out on the road for the third time in four games -- this time against the New York Jets (4-3 heading into Week 8). The Jets are somewhat similar to the Bills in that they like to run the ball, have a young, mobile quarterback in Geno Smith, and play solid defense. It’s another game the Saints should win because of the disparity on offense, but they need to protect the ball and protect Brees a little better than they did against the Bills on Sunday.