Saints by the Numbers: Only garbage time spoils Saints’ stellar defensive effort

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Only a pair of effectively meaningless late touchdown drives by the Chicago Bears denied the Saints defense an even better statistical effort than they produced Sunday in an impressive victory.

The two Bears touchdowns in the final 2:31 were the first allowed by the Saints defense since the fourth quarter of the Tampa Bay game.

It has been 19 years since New Orleans has gone back-to-back games without allowing an offensive touchdown (the Bears’ first TD came on a Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return). In that 2000 season, the Saints had back-to-back games against the Bears on Oct. 8 and Panthers on Oct. 15.

Remember that Oct. 15 game with Carolina. It will come up again shortly.

Running Game in Hibernation: The Saints defense stuffed the Bears’ running game all day, and once New Orleans built its lead in the third quarter, Chicago abandoned its running game.

Chicago finished with 17 rushing yards on seven attempts. It’s the fewest rushing yards allowed by a Saints defense since giving up 10 to the Panthers in that Oct. 15, 2000 game, and the fifth-fewest allowed by New Orleans in a game. Needless to say, the Saints also extended their streak of games without allowing a 100-yard rusher to 33 (29 regular season and four playoffs).

The Saints franchise record for fewest rushing yards allowed is 2 against New England on Nov. 30, 1986 – amazingly, a game the Patriots won, 21-20, thanks to a pair of non-offensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

The Bears’ seven rush attempts marked only the second time in the last decade and the ninth time since the 1970 merger that a team has run the ball seven or fewer times in a game. Minnesota had six rushes last season against Buffalo.

Cam Doubles His Pleasure … Again: For the second consecutive Sunday, defensive end Cameron Jordan came away with two sacks.

It’s the fourth time in his career Jordan has had two or more sacks in consecutive games, and he is the only Saint in the last 10 years with any streaks of two-sack games.

The last player not named Jordan to have back-to-back games of two or more sacks: the late Will Smith during the Saints’ Super Bowl run in 2009.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Jordan has 10 games of two or more sacks, tied for the most in the NFL with the Rams’ Aaron Donald.

Seven for Seven: With seven sacks in the first seven games, Jordan is the first player to average at least a sack a game through the first seven games of the season since Charles Grant started the 2004 season with 7.5 sacks in seven games.

From 1991-2001, 10 Saints had seven sacks or more through seven games, including “Dome Patrol” anchors Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling, who each topped the mark in 1991 and 1992.

Join the Club: Getting the bulk of the reps at running back with Alvin Kamara out, Latavius Murray finished with 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.

Murray is the 11th different running back to top the 100-yard mark in the Sean Payton era. Can you name the others? We’ll save the list for the end.

Still Can’t Guard Mike: Without Kamara, Drew Brees, Tre’Quan Smith and Jared Cook, the Saints’ offensive weaponry was certainly limited Sunday. You would figure the Bears’ defensive effort would be directed at Michael Thomas, but it didn’t matter.

Thomas finished with nine catches for 131 yards, upping the Saints’ $100 million man’s season totals to 62 catches and 763 yards in seven games.

Minnesota’s Adam Thielen started last season with 67 receptions and 822 yards in his first seven games. He is the only other player in NFL history with at least 60 catches and 750 yards through Game 7.

The 260 Streak Continues … Barely: With those two last garbage-time drives, the Bears finished with 252 yards. That came despite Chicago not reaching triple-digits in total offense for the game until less than 10 minutes remained.

That makes four straight games the Saints have held their opponent to 260 yards or less, a streak topped only by those “Dome Patrol” defenses of 1991 and 1992, which put together streaks of six and five games, respectively.

Answer: The list of running backs to gain 100 yards since 2006 (and the number of 100-yard games in parentheses): Mike Bell (1), Reggie Bush (1), Tim Hightower (2), Mark Ingram (15), Chris Ivory (3), Alvin Kamara (2), Deuce McAllister (4), Aaron Stecker (1), Pierre Thomas (4) and Dwayne Washington (1).

Research assistance provided by the website database Pro Football Reference.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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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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