Saints by the Numbers: Four (plus a score) interceptions

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Saints defense
(Photo: William E. Anthony)

Four interceptions. One of them returned for a touchdown.

For the first time in 33 years, the Saints defense posted that stat line in Sunday’s 34-17 victory at Tampa Bay.

The last time the Saints had at least four picks, one of them a “pick-six” – Sept. 14, 1986, against the Green Bay Packers in the Superdome. On that day, James Haynes had an interception return for a touchdown and the New Orleans defense came away with seven interceptions.

Sunday marked the first four-interception game for the Saints defense since 2012, also against Tampa Bay. That Buccaneer team had Josh Freeman at quarterback, not Jameis Winston.

With the four picks and no giveaways, New Orleans finished with a plus-4 turnover margin for the first time since Nov. 6, 2016, at San Francisco.

Nowhere to Run: As the Saints defense reaches its second anniversary since allowing a 100-yard rusher, they also – for the third time in a month – forced their opponent to effectively abandon the running game.

Tampa Bay had eight running plays and 53 dropbacks on Sunday. It was the third time this season – all in the last four games – a Saints opponent has had fewer than a dozen rushing attempts.

On Oct. 20, Chicago ran it just seven times against the Saints, and a week later, Arizona tried to run only 11 times.

The 2019 Saints joined Chicago (1988), Washington (1989), Minnesota (2006) and the New York Jets (2015) as teams who have had three games in a season where opponents have run the ball 11 times or less.

New Orleans is 6-0 this season when holding its opponent to less than 100 yards rushing.

Playing Keep-Away: For the fourth time this season, the Saints held the football for more than 36 minutes. Against the Bucs, New Orleans had a time of possession edge of 37:00-23:00.

The Saints had a season-high 37:59 time of possession against Arizona.

For the season, New Orleans ranks third in the NFL in time of possession, averaging 32:58 per game. Only Baltimore and San Francisco rank ahead of the Saints.

Still Can’t Guard Mike: Wide receiver Michael Thomas continues to post remarkable numbers every week. He had eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs.

*On Sunday, he recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game, tying Jimmy Graham for the longest such streak in Saints history.

*Thomas also has a streak of seven consecutive games with at least eight receptions, tied with Anquan Boldin (2005) for the second-longest in NFL history. Only Antonio Brown, who had a run of eight straight games of eight or more catches in 2014, has a longer streak.

*Through 10 games, Thomas has 94 receptions. Only Marvin Harrison, in his record-setting 2002 season, reached 100 receptions in Game 11.

Harrison finished 2002 with 143 receptions, the gold standard that Thomas will chase for the final six games of 2019. Thomas has averaged 9.4 receptions per game thus far; he needs to average 8.3 in the final six games to top Harrison’s mark.

Kamara’s Double-Double: Alvin Kamara is clearly healthy once again. He ran the ball 13 times against Tampa Bay and also caught 10 passes, his second career game with double-figure rushing attempts and catches.

Last September, Kamara had 16 rush attempts and 15 receptions at Atlanta. He’s one of only two players in NFL history (along with San Francisco’s Rickey Young in 1979) to get 15 touches running and receiving in the same game.

Research assistance provided by the website database Pro Football Reference.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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