NEW ORLEANS — With Alvin Kamara leading the way with a franchise and NFL record six rushing touchdowns, New Orleans defeated Minnesota 52-33 inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Christmas Day. The victory gave the Saints its fourth-straight NFC South division title and eliminated the Vikings from playoff contention.
How It Happened:
The Saints scored on the possession of the game needing only six plays to go 75 yards, as the drive was bookend by Kamara runs. The first drive of the game was an 11-yard run by Kamara while the last was a 40-yard touchdown run.
With the touchdown, Kamara passed Saints legend Dalton Hillard for third all-time on the rushing touchdown list.
That opening drive saw the Saints run it four times for 66 yards.
The Vikings would respond with an eight-play, 75-yard drive as Kirk Cousins completed 4-of-5 passes for 43 yards and Dalvin Cook rushed for 32 yards on three carries, and capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Saints answered with a 7-play, 66-yard touchdown drive as Kamara scored his second rushing touchdown of the game — this one from one yard out.
After the Saints added a 30-yard field goal by Will Lutz early in the second quarter, the Vikings put together a 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive as Mike Boone scored from four yards out.
It appeared that the Saints were going to score yet again but the drive ended after Brees threw an interception in the red zone. Facing third-and-six, Brees tried to throw to tight end Jared Cook but Harrison Hand stepped in front of the pass and picked it off.
The Saints defense forced a three-and-out and the offense would not come away empty handed. Kamara would score this third touchdown of the first half with a five-yard run off the left tackle.
At halftime, Saints led the Vikings 24-14.
After forcing the Vikings to punt to start the second half, Brees made history with a nine-yard completion to running back Latavius Murray. That gave Brees 80,000 passing yards in his career — the most of any NFL quarterback.
The celebration would be short lived as moments later Brees threw a pass to Emmanuel Sanders which bounced off of his hands and was picked off by Hardy Nickerson.
A few plays later, Cousins threw a two-yard touchdown to Irv Smith Jr. The extra point attempt by Dan Bailey was no good.
The Saints answered with another scoring drive as Kamara scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game — this one from six yards out.
The Vikings responded with a 9-play, 75-yard drive that was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Carl Granderson and a questionable pass interference call on Jenkins.
Cousins would then find Smith Jr. for a four-yard touchdown, and New Orleans held only a 31-27 lead heading to the fourth.
The Saints would add two more touchdown drives in the fourth quarter as Kamara scored his fifth touchdown (a seven-yard score) and then Taysom Hill scored on a one-yard keeper.
The Vikings added a one-yard touchdown pass by Cousins but the two-point pass was no good. The Saints then put the exclamation point on the win as Kamara would score his sixth and final touchdown — a three-yard run with 1:50 left in the game.
Big Number: 264
Entering Friday’s game, Minnesota had the 23rd ranked rushing defense in the NFL. New Orleans took full advantage of that as the Saints rushed for 264 yards on 45 carries in the victory. In addition, all seven touchdowns by the Saints in Friday’s game were rushing scores.
Player of the Game: Alvin Kamara
The fourth-year running back put the team on his back and had a career evening. Kamara rushed for 155 yards on 22 carries and scored six rushing touchdowns, which set a new Saints and NFL single-game record. The six are the most in a single game since the NFL merger in 1970, and ties the record set by Chicago Cardinals’ Ernie Nevers In 1929. Kamara’s fourth score also gave him 19 total touchdowns for the season, which broke the record that Kamara (2018) and Dalton Hillard (1989) had shared.
Next Up: New Orleans (11-4) wraps up the regular season at Carolina on Sunday, Jan. 3. Kickoff is set for noon.