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Film Study: Saints Touchdowns in Week 3

Breaking down the Saints trio of touchdowns against the Packers Sunday night.

The New Orleans Saints scored a trio of passing TDs in their 37-30 loss to the Packers Sunday Night in the super dome. The three TD tosses marked the 94th time in Drew Brees' career he reached that feat in a game, setting a new NFL record. Below is a Saints News Network breakdown of each of Brees' TD passes in Week 3.

Brees to Kamara 11-yard TD (5:07 in 1st Quarter)

Cris Collinsworth said it perfectly on the NBC broadcast Sunday night. “They have been running this play in New Orleans for as long as I can remember.” The Saints line up in 11 personnel (1 TE & 1 RB) with three receivers (trips) to Brees’ right. Jared Cook lines up next to left tackle Terron Armstead and Alvin Kamara to Brees’ left in the shotgun.

The play design is strictly for running back Alvin Kamara out of the backfield in what is known as an option route. Kamara runs upfield and then chooses to cut inside or outside based on the defenders’ position. 

In this play, the Saints run tight end, Jared Cook, up the middle of the field on a go route, intending to clear the middle of the field for Kamara. Because of Cook’s route and his defender's positioning, Packers linebacker Krys Barnes elects to lean towards covering the outside. The slight lean by Barnes alerts Kamara to take the inside of the field, catch the pass and turn upfield for the touchdown. 

Brees to Sanders 10-yard TD (0:06 in 2nd Quarter)

With the ball at the 10-yard line and 9 seconds left in the first half with no timeouts, the Saints had to get the ball into the endzone. This play has both of those options. New Orleans has two receivers to the far side of the formation with tight end Jared Cook offset on that side. The Packers defense plays quarters, four DB playing deep, each responsible for 1/4 of the field.

New Orleans runs two skinny posts on the far side (left) with receivers Sanders and Smith, while Jared Cook runs a flat route. Cook draws the defenders' attention with the underneath coverage to the far side of the field. Cook's route opens a small window for Drew Brees to fit the ball to Emmanuel Sanders between the underneath coverage roaming from the middle of the field and the trailing defensive backs in quarters.

As the underneath coverage breaking towards Sanders, Brees recognizes the need to place the ball high and out of the defender's reach. The result is a touchdown. Brees trusts the two-time Pro-Bowl receiver to climb the ladder and catch a well-thrown ball. Touchdown. 

Brees to Kamara 52-yards (0:33 in 3rd Quarter)

Wow! What an incredible solo effort from Kamara. The play was remarkable, but get this, Kamara was Brees' last option.

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A Sean Payton classic! The Saints were near mid-field, and he designed a two-man route "shot play" off of the play-action by Brees. New Orleans had three receivers in the formation. Wideout Tre’Quan Smith is bunched up inside next to right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

“We called a couple shot plays today. And unfortunately, we just got, again, bad looks. I think I got sacked on one. And that actually, ironically, the second one was the one where I threw it to Alvin Kamara and he went 52 yards for a touchdown.”

- Drew Brees Week 3 post-game presser

The Saints intended the play for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who ran a post pattern from the field's far side. Brees takes the snap and fakes the pitch to Kamara, going to the nearside. He immediately looks for Sanders over the middle of the field. After noticing a small window to throw to Sanders, Brees double clutches and drops the ball off to Alvin Kamara behind the line of scrimmage. 

Packers defensive back Will Redmond made a great read and was on Kamara as soon as he caught the football. But, but three-time Pro-Bowl running back slipped his tackle and raced down the near sideline. After slipping a second tackle, Kamara had a lead blocker as center Erik McCoy sprinted downfield to lead the way. AK’s balance, strength, and shiftiness were on full display as he glided into the endzone for a game-tying touchdown.

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