The Saints had their way with the Bengals in all phases of the game, winning by a landslide, 51-14.
As the score would indicate, the Saints imposed their will on the Bengals. Drew Brees completed 22 of his 25 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns and a rating of 150.4. Running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 25 carries for 160 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. The Saints ran 69 plays and converted seven of their eleven third downs. The Bengals gave up over 500 total yards for the third game in a row, setting an NFL record.
The Bengals only had 13 first downs and converted none of their third down attempts (0/6).
The Saints started out the game doing what they always do: they continually fed Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The latter in particular caught four of Drew Brees’ six completions on the first drive for 37 yards and the game’s first touchdown. From the seven-yard line, Brees threw a dart to Thomas a few yards inside of the endzone, and even though William Jackson’s coverage was nearly perfect, the ball was just out of his reach. Will Lutz’ extra point was good, so the Saints had the early 7-0 lead with 6:34 left in the opening quarter.
Joe Mixon carried the Bengals’ offense on the next drive. He had four carries for 35 yards to open the game. Without A.J. Green, the wide receiver crew stepped up to help the offense as well. Tyler Boyd opened things up with a 23 yard reception, and John Ross concluded the drive with a two-yard touchdown reception on his first catch after being sidelined with a groin injury in the last two games. Randy Bullock’s extra point was good, so the game was tied at 7-7 with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter.
The Saints started off the next drive by going to Mark Ingram, first with a five-yard run and then with a 27-yard reception. They went back to Ingram a few plays later and he ran through the Bengals defense for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Ingram caught the screen and followed his entourage for the score to re-take the lead with 13:33 to go in the second quarter. With the extra point, the Saints were up again, 14-7. With that score, they never looked back.
The Bengals punted on their next drive and the Saints picked up right where they left off. The Saints’ first five plays on the drive went for first downs as running backs combined for 42 yards on the ground on four carries. Kamara finished off the drive by running the ball through the heart of the defense for an eight-yard score. After the extra point, the Bengals quickly found themselves in a deep hole, down 21-7 with 5:34 to go in the half.
The Bengals punted again, and after an uncharacteristically short punt from Kevin Huber (who was walloped on his first punt even though no flag was thrown on the play), the Saints took over from the Bengals’ 40 yard-line. With less than four minutes left in the half, the Saints chipped their way down the field, milking the clock the whole way. They got all the way down to the one-yard line where Brees tossed the ball to Kamara, who outran the Bengals defense to get to the pylon for the score. With the point after, the Saints were up 28-7 with 1:22 left in the half. But no, they weren’t done yet.
The Bengals were left with just enough time for one more monumental mistake. In field goal range with 24 seconds left, Dalton floated a lobbed pass to Alex Erickson that was picked off by Marcus Williams and returned for 78 yards to the 17-yard line. With only eight seconds to go, Thomas found a seam in the Bengals’ zone coverage and scored his second touchdown on the day to add insult to injury and give the Saints 35 points in the first half for the second week in a row following the extra point.
The Bengals’ defense looked totally helpless in the first half. The Saints ran 40 plays but faced third down only six times, converting every single one.
But its hard to get too angry at the defense when the Bengals’ offense kept giving the ball right back to the Saints. Following the 75-yard scoring drive, the Bengals only compiled 67 more yards for the rest of the half. Things were bad all around with the Saints running twice the number of plays and possessing the ball for double the amount of time.
The Bengals received the second half kickoff, but punted almost immediately. The Saints got the ball back and went to Keith Kirkwood, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this week. Brees floated the ball to a wide open Kirkwood for 42 yards. The Bengals finally got a third down stop two plays later and forced the Saints to settle for a field goal. Lutz made the 29-yard kick with 9:04 left in the third quarter, increasing the Saints’ lead to 38-7.
After a turnover on downs, the Saints ran the ball for 59 yards on their first four plays. The Saints got all the way down to the one-yard line, but were stuffed on third down. So, like any sensible head coach would do in this situation, Sean Peyton called a sneak for their 39-year-old quarterback while leading by 31 points. Brees leapt over the line for the score with 2:25 to go in the third quarter to increase their lead to 45-7 after the extra point.
The Saints quickly forced another Bengals’ punt, and Dwayne Washington entered the game at running back for the Saints and carried the ball four times for 14 yards to start the fourth quarter. The Saints ran down the clock but settled for a field goal. Lutz kicked a 42-yarder through and increased the Saints’ lead to 41 points with 10:41 left in the game, now leading 48-7.
The offense had been following a distinct pattern: make a few positive plays to look like they are getting ready to actually do something, then give up a sack or a turnover to give the ball right back to the Saints. This pattern continued as the Bengals gained a couple first downs on the next drive. But Dalton’s pass was deflected by blitzing safety Chris Banjo and picked off by Eli Apple for his first Saints interception.
Saints backup Teddy Brigdewater entered the game at quarterback for the Saints and led the scoring drive. (Are you thinking of last year’s Minnesota game yet?) Another Lutz field goal made the game 51-7 with 7:24 remaining.
Bengals backup quarterback Jeff Driskel entered the game on the next drive and went two for three with 45 yards on the drive. He capped off the possession with a 27-yard touchdown run to lessen the humiliation and decrease the deficit to 51-14 with under five minutes to go in the game. It came on fourth-and-one, which was the Bengals’ second fourth down attempt. They almost went for it on fourth down early in the game but were offsides, which changed their decision and forced them to punt.
The Saints collected their eighth win in a row, improving to 9-1 before they host the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 11.
The Bengals dropped to 5-4 after the blowout loss. They will go to Baltimore next week to play the Ravens and seemingly quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is rumored to be preparing for his first NFL start.