JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Drew Brees’ absence has led to some inspired football by the New Orleans Saints’ defense.
It was the second time in three weeks that the Saints’ defense carried the team to a slugfest win with a dominant performance. And it was absolutely necessary on a hot afternoon in Jacksonville, where the Saints’ offense was ice-cold for much of the game.
The Saints (5-1) are now improbably 4-0 since Brees suffered a thumb injury -- even though quarterback Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have his best day Sunday. They’ll probably need more of the same from their defense next week against another top defense at Chicago.
“I told our defense if we would’ve played eight quarters today I don’t think they would have scored a touchdown, honestly,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan had two sacks, taking advantage of his matchup with rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor. In the process, he tied Dome Patrol legend Pat Swilling for third place on the Saints’ all-time list with 76.5 career sacks. Jordan has five of them in the first six games this year.
And Fournette finished with 72 yards on 20 carries, meaning the Saints have now gone 32 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, including the playoffs -- the longest active streak in the NFL.
Pivotal play: Bridgewater’s 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook in the back of the end zone early in the fourth quarter was obviously huge because it was the only TD of the game. But it was also Cook’s biggest moment to date with the Saints. It was a gotta-have-it score on third-and-goal, and Cook went up high to snag it behind safety Jarrod Wilson. Cook caught three balls for 37 yards Sunday – all to convert third downs.
QB breakdown: Bridgewater wasn’t great outside of that throw in a disappointing dropoff from his breakout four-touchdown performance in Week 5. He completed 24 of 36 passes for 240 yards, one touchdown and zero turnovers. But he was more off-target than usual, missing receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. a handful of times. The inaccuracy was uncharacteristic for Bridgewater, who had completed 75 percent of his throws in the previous three weeks.
Still, there won’t be any QB controversy heading into next week at Chicago, even though dual-threat backup Taysom Hill did provide one of the game’s biggest moments with a 19-yard run on third down late in the game. Bridgewater is still doing enough to win, and he is a remarkable 4-0 in Brees’ absence.
Promising trend: Saints punter Thomas Morstead, who was already named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Month for September, continued to pin the Jaguars back in a battle of field position. Five of his six punts were downed inside the 15-yard line.
Kicker Wil Lutz also continued to deliver. He tied Rian Lindell's NFL record by making 34 consecutive field goals on the road, per the Elias Sports Bureau.