Miami - 17
New Orleans - 38
Check below for updated scores along with halftime and postgame grades and analysis!
|Positional Unit||First-Half Grades||Final Grades|
Pass Offense: Quarterback Drew Brees was phenomenal against a very solid defense (even one that was clearly missing Cameron Wake)—he finished with four touchdowns, 413 passing yards and a 79 percent completion rate at 10.6 yards per attempt.
Running back Darren Sproles had 114 receiving yards (all in the first half), and tight end Jimmy Graham racked up 100 yards and two touchdowns. Marques Colston came four yards short of being the third Saints receiver to reach 100 yards in Week 5, and Brees completed passes to eight different receivers.
This was nothing short of a spectacular performance from the high-flying Saints offense.
Run Offense: The Saints' rush attack picked up a bit in the second half, when it racked up 58 yards while finishing strong and putting the game away early. Sproles had an 18-yard burst, and rookie running back Khiry Robinson (3.1 yards per carry) was decent in closing the door. Overall, however, the Saints had just a 2.8 yards-per-carry average as a team—but it didn't matter much.
Pass Defense: This was another impressive performance by a surprisingly elite Saints pass defense. It held quarterback Ryan Tannehill to just 249 yards passing on 35 attempts, with a 62 percent completion rate.
Once again, the Saints defense displayed its penchant for opportunism, picking off Miami's QB three times. The Saints absolutely shut down Tannehill in the second half as he tried to come back from an early third-quarter deficit.
Run Defense: The Dolphins didn't run much in the second half, as they attempted to come back from a huge deficit, but they did finish with a 6.1 yards-per-carry average. The Saints have shown that they don't need to run or stop the run to win, but this is something to bear in mind in future games if the Saints can't build such a huge lead that the opposition is forced to throw.
Special Teams: Kicker Garrett Hartley missed a field goal, Sproles averaged nearly 15 yards per punt return and 18 yards per kick return, and punter Thomas Morstead boomed all three of his first-half punts at a 47.5-yard-per-punt clip.
Coaching: You can't exactly credit head coach Sean Payton's game plan when it comes to establishing a balance between run and pass, but why would the Saints even feel the need to run? They're 4-0 with a pass-happy offense that feels no need to establish the ground game in order to lure defenders in the box.
Brees' offense is loaded with such an impressive arsenal of weapons that even subpackage defenses can't slow him down. This was another impressive win by the Saints and shows what a difference the return of Payton has made to a team that missed the playoffs last season.
Pass Offense: Graham was quiet for much of the first half, but that didn't slow Brees, who completed 71 percent of his passes at a clip of 10 yards per attempt. Brees was turnover-free in a clean, efficient performance. Graham did eventually haul in Brees' first touchdown pass, but it was Sproles who was the star of the half with 114 receiving yards, including a 48-yard catch-and-run and a late touchdown.
Run Offense: Once again, the Saints did almost nothing to establish the run, rushing just eight times for a paltry 10 total yards (including a desperation rush by Brees for five yards on a designed pass). It's clear the Saints and Payton simply aren't concerned with establishing a ground threat.
Pass Defense: The Saints defense has been remarkably effective so far this year, but Tannehill had some success in the first half. He was able to complete 69 percent of his passes, averaging 9.8 yards per attempt. Running back Marcus Thigpen's big 50-yard romp after the catch was a fairly big breakdown in which the Saints blew the checkdown assignment.
However, they stepped up big with a late interception on Tannehill to set up their third touchdown late in the half.
Run Defense: Historically, a team that can't run and can't stop the run isn't very good, but that's not the case in the modern NFL—at least not with the Saints. Though they allowed 6.0 yards per carry by the Dolphins (including 57 yards and a touchdown from running back Lamar Miller), the Saints were able to slow the Dolphins' passing attack enough to develop a commanding lead by halftime.
Still, New Orleans will have to shore up its rushing defense in the coming weeks, if not the coming half.
Special Teams: Hartley hit all three of his extra points, Morstead boomed three punts at an average of 47.3 yards, and Sproles returned a kickoff 24 yards.
Coaching: New Orleans once again rolled with Payton's high-octane (7.4 yards per play) offense, but it made sure to play disciplined (just two penalties) and won the time-of-possession battle even though it couldn't establish the run at all. The Saints have to be happy with a double-digit lead at halftime against an undefeated Dolphins team.