NEW ORLEANS — For the second consecutive game, the Saints’ high-scoring offense played a complementary role to its rejuvenated defense.
A week earlier, Drew Brees passed for fewer than 200 yards for the first time in 23 games as New Orleans defeated the Bills, 27-7, in Buffalo.
On Sunday in the Superdome, Brees against fell short of the 200-yard mark — the first time in four seasons with the Saints that he has played the entire game both times and failed to reach that plateau in consecutive weeks.
The NFL’s highest-scoring offense scored just 10 points to support the 14 scored by the defense in New Orleans’ 24-10 victory over the New York Jets.
The Saints received the opening kickoff and nine plays later they had a first down at the Jets’ 22. A holding penalty on center Jonathan Goodwin put the Saints behind schedule and the drive ended with John Carney kicking a 34-yard field goal.
After the defense’s first touchdown — a 99-yard interception return by Darren Sharper — New Orleans appeared poised to take a 17-0 lead when it drove to a first-and-goal at the one. Pierre Thomas lost a yard, Heath Evans got the yard back, and Brees threw two incompletions, giving the ball back to New York.
But the defense got the points the offense couldn’t when two plays later, Will Smith sacked Mark Sanchez and caused a fumble, which Remi Ayodele recovered for a touchdown.
The Saints failed in another short-yardage situation in the third quarter, when on fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 28, Thomas was stopped for no gain.
“We drove down the field on the first possession of the game and got three points, very well could have had seven,” Brees said. “After that, it was about managing the football game. I look at missed opportunities to get points and penalties that stalled drives. We’re going to continue to try and get better offensively.”
The offense finally put the ball in the end zone when it needed to in order to secure the victory, driving 74 yards to a touchdown that gave New Orleans a 24-10 lead with 6:07 left in the game.
Along the way, the offense finally found a way to convert a fourth-and-1 into a first down for them instead of the Jets. They lined up at the New York 43 and enticed defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to jump offsides.
Goodwin said the Saints had no intention of snapping the ball. They said Jenkins was susceptible to jumping the snap count.
“All the linemen just started yelling a bunch of snap counts,” Goodwin said, “and I got a little lower to make it look like I was ready to snap it. Then Drew did a great job with a hard count.”
Six plays later, Thomas was running one yard for the offense’s only touchdown of the game.
“The defense played excellent all day and we just wanted to try and put the game away and take some pressure of the defense,” wide receiver Marques Colston said. “We wanted to try and distance ourselves a little bit.”
The Saints had 14 touchdown drives in their first three games and just one Sunday, but that represented just the third touchdown drive in 46 possessions against the Jets’ stingy defense.
“We did everything we needed to do, especially in the fourth quarter, to win the football game,” Brees said. “My job as quarterback is to lead that group of men and manage the game and put us in the best position to score points, take care of the football, and win games.
“I think the balance (153 yards rushing and 190 yards passing) — playing that complementary type of offense with the run and the pass — it’s good for the offense, it’s good for the players, it’s winning football games. In the end, it doesn’t matter how we get it done, it’s that we get it done.”