The Saints didn’t get Darren Sproles back on Sunday, but their running game was just fine without him.
Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram combined for 134 yards on 24 carries, including a 27-yard touchdown run by Ingram on the first offensive play of the second half. Travaris Cadet, another running back, put the Saints in great position with a big kickoff return and Ingram outran the Raiders for a score that made it 28-7 17 seconds into the third quarter. That pretty much ended the competitive portion of the game and the Saints cruised from there to a 38-17 win.
Drew Brees didn’t have to do much heavy lifting thanks to how well the backs were moving the ball, but he still found the time to throw three touchdowns while completing 20-of-27 passes on the afternoon. The Saints offense were as efficient as they were productive on Sunday.
The defense also had a good day despite allowing 404 yards to the Raiders over the course of the game. Oakland picked up a lot of those yards once the game was out of reach in the second half, though, and two first half interceptions helped the Saints grab and maintain their lead while the offense was still trying to find its groove. Once it did, the game went firmly into the Saints’ pocket.
About the only big complaint about New Orleans’ performance is their 11 penalties for 109 yards. Particularly galling were one for excessive celebration and one for taunting, giving the Raiders yards that a better team could have used to some advantage.
New Orleans is now 5-5, tied with Dallas and behind Tampa Bay and Minnesota in the push for the Wild Card spot currently occupied by the Seahawks. The next four weeks will likely determine whether they can complete a dramatic turnaround from an 0-4 start. They host the 49ers before traveling to Atlanta and the Giants and wrapping up with a home date against the Buccaneers. Today’s balanced performance is the kind of thing they’ll need more of to keep the train rolling into the postseason.