NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Another blowout loss left Saints owner Tom Benson furious and wondering whether his team belonged in the NFL.
The Broncos were up 20-0 after the first quarter, when they had 185 yards of offense to 55 for the Saints. New Orleans had only two first downs in the quarter and 1 yard rushing.
“It’s the worst performance I’ve seen by them in the 20 years that I’ve owned them,” Benson said. “They looked just like high school kids.”
Benson made a pitch Wednesday for the state to renovate the Superdome and pay the team millions of dollars until 2020 to keep it in Louisiana.
The Broncos (7-3), AFC West leaders, have gone 12-12 to close out the last three seasons, but looked strong coming off their bye week. Denver had 389 yards in total offense and held the Saints to one touchdown.
“We knew coming off the bye week that we’d have to get the job done and have to step it up in the second half of the season,” Droughns said. “So far, so good.”
New Orleans (4-6) has dropped five of its last seven games, mainly because of a defense that is allowing almost 30 points a game—second-most in the NFL — and the most total yards.
The game was the second straight to be blacked out locally, although the team announced both as sellouts. The crowd, small from the start, left early and booed the Saints from the opening minutes.
The New Orleans offense took most of the jeers. It has started each game slowly, tallying a league-low 10 points in the first quarter. All of those points came in a 30-27 win over the 49ers in Week 2.
“It’s disappointing because we talked about getting the lead and starting fast,” Haslett said. “We didn’t do either.”
When asked about Benson’s comment, Haslett said only that the owner could say what he wanted.
Aaron Brooks set team records for completions and attempts, going 34-of-60 for 377 yards. He was intercepted three times and spent much of the game dodging Denver defenders. He was sacked twice.
Deuce McAllister, who had at least one rushing TD in each of the last four games, rushed for 42 yards and was held scoreless. He also had 11 receptions for 87 yards.
“It’s frustrating,” McAllister said. “That’s probably the only way I can describe it. When you can’t move the ball, can’t get a first down, and you go three-and-out; you’re basically putting yourself in a hole from the get-go.”
It took the Broncos 10 seconds to go up 7-0, when Droughns ran 51 yards for the score. Droughns ended with his fifth 100-yard game of the season.
On their second possession, the Broncos took three plays to score. Plummer hit Ashley Lelie with a 37-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0. On their third possession, the Broncos settled for a 48-yard field goal, but Michael Lewis fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff, and Denver took over on the New Orleans 34. That set up a 34-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 20-0 first-quarter lead.
“It’s a big win on the road to start out the second half of the season,” Plumber said. “November and December, you know, the teams that win today you’ll see are the teams that are making a push for the playoffs.”
New Orleans drove to the Denver 1-yard line in the second quarter, but a penalty for having too many men on the field backed the Saints up 5 yards and they settled for a 24-yard field goal to make it 20-3.
Denver failed to score on its first possession on the second quarter. The Broncos made up for it when Al Wilson intercepted a pass that Brooks tossed as he was being sacked at the goal line. Wilson returned it 7 yards to make it 27-3.
The Saints finally found the end zone in the second quarter when Brooks threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Daunte’ Stallworth. John Carney kicked a 36-yard field goal to cut Denver’s lead to 27-13 at halftime.
The Broncos stretched their lead to 34-13 less than a minute into the fourth quarter, when Plummer threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Kyle Johnson.
Denver K Jason Elam has scored at least one point in each of his 182 career games, third longest streak in NFL history. … Saints kicker John Carney’s seven points gave him a total of 1,506, making him the ninth player in league history to post 1,500 points. … Plummer has been sacked just seven times this season—none on Sunday. Brooks has been sacked 20 times.