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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Dylan Sanders

What went right, what went wrong in Saints’ Week 8 win over Colts

Finally: the New Orleans Saints offense was firing on all cylinders against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, powering the team to a badly-needed win. That’s not to say everything went perfectly. The Colts were in control early on, and some crucial self-inflicted wounds by the Saints kept Indianapolis around longer than they should have.

So let’s break it down by asking and answering three questions:

What went right?

What went wrong?

And what’s the bottom line?

What went right?

Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Saints offense came to life, led by two touchdowns each from Alvin Kamara (one as a receiver, another as a runner) and Taysom Hill (both on the ground). Kamara totaled 110 yards from scrimmage while Hill made plays in all three phases: leading the team with 63 rushing yards while tacking on 44 passing yards and a 14-yard reception. Rashid Shaheed only caught three passes, but he gained 153 yards off of them (while adding another 46 return yards on special teams).

Much of their success can be chalked up to the offensive line, who won their battles at the line of scrimmage in the second half and did their jobs to open running lanes while keeping Derek Carr clean.

Defensively, the Saints made a ton of plays on the ball — six different players logged pass deflections with Bryan Bresee (2) and Paulson Adebo (3) getting a mitt on the ball multiple times. They only sacked Gardner Minshew twice, but he was hit seven times and often moved off his spot. In that regard, it’s a performance they should feel proud of.

What went wrong?

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

That’s not to say things went perfectly — especially on defense. The Saints run defense was gashed at times with star Colts running back Jonathan Taylor making a couple of big gains right up the middle. His longest run on the afternoon gained 42 yards into the teeth of the Saints defense, spurred by a Tyrann Mathieu missed tackle at the second level. New Orleans’ run defense has looked like an improvement over last year’s performance but that’s been helped by games against soft opponents. An elite runner like Taylor can expose them.

Ball security was an issue offensively. Carr fumbled early in the game under pressure, and Hill was saved from throwing an interception by great effort from Rashid Shaheed on a contested catch. They can’t afford to give opponents many opportunities like this.

But penalties are the biggest concern. The Saints were fouled nine times: four times on offense, four times on defense, and once on special teams (wiping out a Colts field goal and setting up a too-easy touchdown pass). They’re too sloppy in too many critical moments.

And what's the bottom line?

Justin Casterline/Getty Images

A win is a win, and the Saints are back to .500 — and they’re tied with the Atlanta Falcons for first place in the NFC South. This was the best game they’ve played offensively in quite a while, and their flaws are correctable: better awareness and discipline in run defense and a more acute eye for detail on situations where they’ve been prone to penalties. They can build on this.

But will they? We’ve seen the Saints fall behind and claw their way back up before. Dennis Allen’s team needs to keep winning games to earn more faith from the fanbase. It’s frustrating that the offense didn’t liven up sooner this season, but we’ll take this win for what it is: a much-needed victory to close out October.

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