Saints by the Numbers: Offensive performance worst in Payton/Brees era

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Drew Brees

The reasons for the Saints’ 13-10 loss Thursday night to the Dallas Cowboys are numerous.

But a look into the numbers point to a historically significant performance in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era.

The Saints finished with 176 total yards against the Cowboys, the fewest yards gained by New Orleans since the final game of the 2001 season. In fact, it’s only the fourth time in the Payton/Brees era the Saints have gained less than 250 yards, and in one of those, Brees didn’t even play.

Total Yards Opponent Season
176 at Dallas 2018
188 at Seattle 2013
213 at Carolina 2009 *Week 17; Brees DNP
246 Tampa Bay 2007

Only four times since 2006 have the Saints possessed the ball for less than the 23:07 against the Cowboys, and that usually spells loss. In that span, New Orleans is 0-11 when it possesses the ball for less than 24 1/2 minutes.


A Big O on D: In the loss, defensive tackle David Onyemata had a career night with seven total tackles and three of the Saints’ seven sacks.

Onyemata – who entered Thursday’s game with 2.0 sacks in 43 career games – is the first Saints interior lineman with at least 3.0 sacks in a game since La’Roi Glover did it three times in his magnificent 2000 season.

Cam Jordan was the last Saint with three sacks in a game, against Atlanta in 2015.


More Sacks: The seven sacks by the Saints defense is their most in a game since Dec. 9, 2001 at Atlanta, when the defense came away with nine sacks. In 2000 and 2001, the Saints had four games with eight or more sacks.

Thursday was the 20th time since sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982 that the Saints have had seven or more sacks in a game. New Orleans is now 16-4 in those games.

Even more perspective on how rare it is to lose with seven sacks: Since 2000, there have been 195 games where teams had seven or more sacks. Their record is 167-26-2, a winning rate of 86.2 percent.


Low-Scoring: In a season that has produced offensive numbers at a dizzying pace across the NFL, Thursday was the exception.

In fact, the 23 total points matched the second-lowest total in a Saints game since 2006. Only New Orleans’ shutout of Miami in London last year was a lower-scoring game.

The lowest-scoring games since Payton and Brees arrived:

Total Pts Opponent Score Season
20 vs Miami (London) W 20-0 2017
23 at Dallas L 13-10 2018
23 Minnesota W 14-9 2010
26 Atlanta W 23-3 2006
26 Washington L 10-16 2006

Some statistical research through the football database website Pro Football Reference.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder


Lenny has been involved in college athletics since 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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