- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New Orleans Saints set a NFL record with 40 first downs in their dominant 49-17 victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. And their 625 yards gained were the most by any NFL team in regulation in the regular season since 1982.
But ESPN Stats & Information broke down the historic nature of Sunday’s performance even further. According to its formula for “expected points added,” it was the best offensive performance in the NFL during the eight seasons for which ESPN Stats & Info has collected such data.
Expected points added takes into account everything an offense does to affect the score, including moving the ball, actually scoring points and avoiding turnovers. The Saints’ EPA of +38.7 bested the 2007 New England Patriots’ +36.8 performance against the Buffalo Bills (and the 2011 Saints’ +36.5 against the Indianapolis Colts).
After punting on their first drive, the Saints scored touchdowns on seven of their next eight drives, with the one exception being a drive that ended with a missed 37-yard field goal (which wasn’t the offense's fault).
The flip side, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, is that the Cowboys had the worst single-game defensive performance in that span.