FIRST QUARTERSaints’ Jordan rules
The New Orleans Saints were looking for an all-around defensive end in the 2011 NFL Draft and found one in Cameron Jordan.
Jordan, a 6-foot-4, 287-pounder, has proved he has enough speed for his extra-large size to be a quality edge rusher.
Jordan got his sixth sack of the season when he burst up the middle, hit Bills quarterback Thad Lewis,forced a fumble and recovered it at the Buffalo 21.
Jordan, the 24th overall pick in 2011, broke out in his sophomore season last year with eight sacks. He is thriving in the blitzing defense of coordinator Rob Ryan. His sack set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Lance Moore.
Tough guy: Thad Lewis fumbled on the first snap from scrimmage when he took a big hit to the ribs from Malcolm Jenkins. He was down for 5 minutes but came back for the next series.
Key plays: Garrett Hartley missed a 47-yard field goal try after Lewis’ first fumble. … Dan Carpenter’s streak of 15 straight successful field-goal tries ended when he missed a 50-yard try with 9:43 left.
Second-guess: It was a ticky-tack call for roughing the passer on Jamaal Westerman for roughing the passer when he nudged Drew Brees. It was a 15-yard foul. The official could have looked the other way.
SECOND QUARTERFaked out
After a rough start, the Bills got back in the game, then fell behind again in the second quarter.
Stevie Johnson made an exceptional catch on a 13-yard scoring pass from Thad Lewis to tie it, 7-7, with 10:44 left in the half. Buffalo had burned a Saints blitz on a 20-yard run by Tashard Choice to get to the Saints’ 21. Then Lewis fired a bullet up the left seam of the field and Johnson reached back to make the grab in the end zone. The Bills marched 43 yards on their next drive to get a 37-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter to go ahead, 10-7.
The Saints responded when Drew Brees found a wide-open Kenny Stills down the left sideline for a 69-yard touchdown. Then late in the half, Brees engineered a nine-play, 77-yard drive, capped by a 15-yard TD strike from Brees to Jimmy Graham.
Rare: Brees was called for two false starts and a delay of game in the half.
Too bad: An interception by Leodis McKelvin two plays before the Graham TD got wiped out when Mario Williams was called for a facemask penalty on Brees. Williams had been held by Saints lineman Charles Brown on the play and reached out for the QB. The offsetting penalties wiped out the INT.
THIRD QUARTERA Graham grab
Credit the New Orleans Saints for making a great projection on Jimmy Graham in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Graham played for the University of Miami basketball team for four years, averaging 16 minutes and 4.2 points a game for his career. He graduated in 2009 but opted to play football for the Hurricanes for a year. In 2009, he had 17 catches for 213 yards as a football neophyte. The Saints picked him late in the third round.
The 6-foot-7 Graham was a mediocre basketball player but he is a great tight end. He had 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011. Only New England’s Rob Gronkowski has more TDs by a tight end over the past three seasons.
Graham beat the Bills for another touchdown in the third quarter, a 13-yard catch from Drew Brees to give the Saints a 28-10 lead. It capped a six-play, 57-yard drive.
Zebra report: Referees were big in the quarter. A 55-yard TD pass from Thad Lewis to T.J. Graham was wiped out by a holding penalty on Scott Chandler. But the drive was kept alive on two personal foul calls on the Saints against Lewis. Both calls on Lewis came on minor hits. Lewis was bailing out and going to the ground on both throws.
Home in the Dome
The Saints are tough in the Superdome.
New Orleans has the fourth best home record in the NFL over the past 5ø seasons. The Saints improved to 33-11 at home since 2008 with their win over the Bills. That’s a win percentage of .750.
The only teams better than the Saints at home since 2008 are New England (38-6, .863), Baltimore (35-8, .814), and Atlanta (35-9, .795). The win improved the Saints to 4-0 at home this season.
Key plays: Buffalo pulled within 28-17 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Fred Jackson with 14:20 left. Buffalo had one more chance to get closer, but Thad Lewis threw way too high for Robert Woods and Keenan Lewis intercepted the pass to give New Orleans possession at its own 49. A little more than two minutes later, Drew Brees threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills to give the Saints an 18-point cushion.
Slower pace: The Bills huddled some to get better communication and ran their no-huddle offense at a slower pace to try to avoid giving the ball back to Brees in a hurry. On many plays, the Bills snapped the ball with about 8 seconds left on the play clock.