EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - The New Orleans Saints are looking like a playoff team a quarter of the way into the season, and the New York Giants are once again looking like a team that isn’t headed to the postseason.
Alvin Kamara ran for 134 yards and three second-half touchdowns and the Saints (3-1) won their third straight game on Sunday, defeating the offensively inept Giants 33-18.
“I feel like we are getting better every week, and that’s what is important to me,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season. “I feel like we are beginning to play more complimentary football and not just on the offense, run to pass, but really as a team.”
The big difference for New Orleans this week was the play of its much-maligned defense. After giving up a touchdown the first series, the unit held New York (1-3) to a third-period field goal and a late touchdown and two-point conversion.
The defense, which came into the game ranked No. 30 in the league, 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?” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan quipped. “There was no place to go but up.”
The Giants are looking a lot like the team that went 3-13 last season. The new 3-4 defense has been playing well, but the offense 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.”
The Saints grabbed a 12-7 first half lead on four field goals by Wil Lutz. Kamara broke the game open in the second half with touchdown runs of 9, 4 and 49 yards.
Eli Manning threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard on the Giants’ opening drive. Aldrick Rosas added a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the Saints lead to 19-10. A late 1-yard TD run by Saquon Barkley and a two-point conversion pass from Manning to Shepard closed out New York’s scoring.
Takeouts from the game between the Saints and Giants:
RUNNING ATTACKS: The biggest difference in the game was the running attacks. The Saints ran 32 times for 170 yards. The Giants carried the ball 15 times for 65 yards. Barkley led the way with 10 carries for 44 yards. However, he had one run of 28 yards, while Beckham had a 10-yard run on an end around. That’s 38 yards. The other 13 carries generated 27 yards.
NO SHOOTOUT: The game was supposed to be a showdown between the 39-year-old Brees and the 37-year-old Manning. It never happened. Brees, who was completing 80 percent of his passes, was limited to 18 of 32 for a season-low 217 yards. NFL leading receiver Michael Thomas had four catches for 47 yards. Manning was 31 of 41 for 255 yards. His long was a 27-yard pass Beckham.
TRICKS: Saints coach Sean Payton threw a wrinkle at the Giants with backup quarterback Taysom Hill. 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. He had not thrown a pass and had three rushes for 39 yards in the first three games.
COLLINS SHINES: Giants safety Landon Collins has not been getting many chances to make plays. He had 16 tackles the first three games. The Pro Bowler led the Giants on Sunday with nine solo tackles and 14 overall. Linebacker Alex Ogletree had 12 tackles.
COVER CORNERS: Janoris Jenkins of the Giants spent almost the entire game shadowing Thomas, who had come into the game with 38 catches in his first three games. It was the most by a receiver in his first three games of the season. The Saints’ Marshon Lattimore, who had been struggling, covered Beckham most of the game. The NFL’s highest paid receiver finished with seven receptions on 11 targets for 60 yards.
Saints: Home against Washington for a Monday night game on Oct. 8.
Giants: At Carolina next Sunday.
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