FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Alvin Kamara told the Saints coaching staff he wanted to touch the football more this week.
They gave him what he wanted, and the running back provided the spark New Orleans’ dormant offense had been missing.
Kamara rushed for a touchdown to become the Saints’ career TD leader, Derek Carr had two scoring passes and New Orleans routed the New England Patriots 34-0 on Sunday.
Tyrann Mathieu added a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown to help New Orleans (3-2) chase Patriots quarterback Mac Jones from the game — the second straight week coach Bill Belichick sidelined Jones in the second half.
Kamara said he expected “tough conversations” in the locker room following a 26-9 loss to Tampa Bay last week. The response was exactly what he hoped it would be.
“Anytime you find yourself in a lull or rut … you’ve got to find a way to fix it fast,” Kamara said. “Sometimes you get those ruts and it compounds and it starts to just turn into your identity. That’s the one thing we didn’t want to happen, because we know what our identity is. We kind of got a chance to put it on display today.”
Kamara punched in his 73rd career TD, one of his 22 carries for 80 yards. Carr finished 18 of 26 for 183 yards, and Michael Thomas had four catches for 65 yards as New Orleans ended a two-game skid. The Saints outgained the Patriots 304-156.
Kamara’s record-setter was the topper for a collaborative effort across the sideline, defensive end Cameron Jordan said.
“Gold standard, that’s why he had gold cleats on,” he said.
It was the second worst shutout loss in team history for New England, trailing only a 52-0 drubbing in Miami against the undefeated Dolphins in 1972. It also drops the Patriots to 1-4 for the first time since 2000, Belichick’s first season in New England.
He remains a win short of joining Hall of Famers Don Shula and George Halas as the only coaches in NFL history with 300 regular-season victories.
“It was a poor performance here today, plain and simple,” Belichick said. “We’ve got to start over and find a way to get back on track.”
Jones was 12 of 22 for 110 yards, the pick-6 and another interception that set up a Saints touchdown. He also lost a fumble in the third quarter that was recovered by Jordan and set up a Saints’ field goal. He was replaced by backup Bailey Zappe in the fourth quarter.
“Everyone’s frustrated, of course we’re frustrated,” Jones said. “At the end of the day, you have to turn that into action.”
New England is yet to top 20 points five games into the season, something it’s only done three times before (1965, 1971 and 1995). The offense has 10 turnovers.
The Saints entered last in the NFL in red-zone efficiency. They went 3 for 3 on their opportunities inside the 20-yard line on Sunday, taking advantage of a Patriots defense missing its two top performing defenders in linebacker Matt Judon and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez.
The Patriots were just three plays into their second drive of the game when Saints defensive lineman Carl Granderson hit Jones as he tried to release a short pass intended for Rhamondre Stevenson. The ball fluttered and dropped into the hands of Mathieu, who ran it back for a TD.
It was Jones’ third pick-6 of the season and second in two weeks.
Following a missed field goal by New England, New Orleans marched 62 yards in eight plays, capping the drive with Kamara’s 2-yard touchdown run. It was Kamara’s first rushing score since Week 16 of last season.
It came a week after he made his season debut in Week 4 after serving a three-game suspension for his involvement in a February 2022 fight in Las Vegas.
The Patriots gave the ball back following a quick three-and-out. The lead then grew to 21-0 on New Orleans’ next possession, this time coming via a 5-yard TD pass from Carr to Chris Olave.
Saints: SS J.T. Gray exited in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. … FB Adam Prentice left with a knee injury.
Patriots: WR Demario Douglas left the game with a head injury after taking a hit from Marshon Lattimore following a catch in the first quarter and did not return. … RG Mike Onwenu left in the third quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return. … WR JuJu Smith-Schuster also left in the third quarter with a head injury. … S Jabrill Peppers exited in the second half with an illness. … LB Ja’Whaun Bentley left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
RUNNING IT UP
Kamara’s second-quarter touchdown made him just the second player in franchise history to record 50 rushing TDs. Mark Ingram tops the list with 52 over 10 seasons.
GIVING IT AWAY
The Patriots’ 10 turnovers are tied for their most in their first five games since they had 12 in 1995. They also had 10 in 2002, 2020 and 2022.
Saints: At Texans next Sunday.
Patriots: At Raiders next Sunday.
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