Game balls from the Saints 21-18 escape from the Browns – (CSC) Saints News

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The New Orleans Saints notched their first victory of the 2018 season yesterday by holding on in the final seconds to beat the Cleveland Browns 21-18. New Orleans certainly didn’t make things easy on themselves. The defense, despite an improved effort from last week’s beatdown at the hands of Tampa Bay, had a major breakdown in the 4th quarter by giving up a 47-yd. touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway on a fourth and long, forcing the Saints into a desperate drive to pull out the victory. Offensively, the Saints again failed to generate a running game, increasing the onus on Drew Brees and the passing attack. Brees missed two easy touchdown throws that would have made the margin of victory larger. The offensive line struggled a bit with the underrated Cleveland line, allowing 3 sacks and failing to open holes for the running game. Nevertheless, the Saints made enough plays to win the game and even their record. Here are some of the standout performers from yesterday’s New Orleans victory.

Alvin Kamara


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Kamara accounted for 39% of the New Orleans offensive output by himself yesterday. He led the team in rushing, with 46 yards, and added 53 yards receiving on six catches while adding a 2-pt conversion on a pitchout run outside. Although his yardage output was down from the previous week against Tampa Bay, Kamara is quite clearly the focal point of the offense along with Michael Thomas. Although New Orleans clearly needs Mark Ingram in the lineup to maintain a consistent rushing attack, Kamara’s ability to be a gamebreaking threat from anywhere in the formation does spread a defense, and doesn’t allow the opposition to consistently bring extra rushers at Brees.

Marcus Williams


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Williams caused the first turnover forced by the Saints defense this season. He jumped a Tyrod Taylor pass near midfield late in the fourth quarter, and had a brilliant return to bring the ball inside the Browns 20-yd. line. The turnover set New Orleans up for the go ahead score, and their first lead of the game. After struggling in deep coverage against the Buccaneers, Williams provided much better help over the top in this game, (even with the secondary’s failure against Callaway late in the game), managing a few key breakups earlier in the contest. Aside from Callaway’s score, Williams led a secondary that held he and star wideout Jarvis Landry to a combined 103 yards through the rest of the game.

Michael Thomas


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Thomas was once again a vital part of the Saints offense, and a destructive force to the opposing secondary. He caught 12 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns, including the go ahead score after Williams’ interception where he overpowered Cleveland defensive back Denzel Ward on a back shoulder timing route in the end zone. His 28 receptions in the first two games of a season are an NFL record, and has developed into a superstar throughout the league. Thomas did lose a fumble for the second consecutive game, which equals the total he lost through his first 32 games combined. (both others against the Denver Broncos in 2016). Thomas continues to flourish even with opposing coverages stacked to stop him, due to a continued inconsistent production from the other New Orleans weapons. Thomas and Kamara accounted for over 53% of the Saints offensive touches against Cleveland, and have both on an early pace for numerous league or team records.

Sheldon Rankins


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Honorable mention certainly goes to Cam Jordan (2 sacks), Alex Okafor, Marcus Davenport, and Taylor Stallworth, who provided nice pressure and rush containment while tying up blockers for the team’s linebackers all afternoon. Rankins had five tackles on the afternoon and a quarterback sack, his first of the year. He pushed the Browns pass pocket back most of the game, and stonewalled Cleveland’s interior blocking to contain their running game before exiting the game late with injury. After a standout preseason, Rankins looks as if he could fulfill the expectations that came with being made the 12th overall draft pick in 2016.

Wil Lutz


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Not wanting to incite the specter of bad karma by giving a game ball to (now former) Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez, who missed two extra points and two field goals, the pick here instead goes to Lutz. Saints fans know all too well from recent history that a poor kicking performance can derail a season. Lutz did have a field goal miss yesterday, but there weren’t many fans that didn’t have confidence in the kicker as he was lining up for the potential game-winner with less than 25 seconds remaining. As expected, Lutz drilled the 44-yd. attempt, and New Orleans held on for the victory. The third year Lutz has become one of the league’s clutch kickers, and gives the Saints a distinct advantage in any close game.

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Who gets your game ball from the Saints narrow win over Cleveland?

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    Alvin Kamara

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    Michael Thomas

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    Sheldon Rankins

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    Marcus Williams

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    Wil Lutz

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Read the Canal Street Chronicles article: www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2018/9/17/17865486/game-balls-from-the-saints-21-18-escape-from-the-browns

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