NEW ORLEANS (AP) Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns and gained 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 50-yard TD run, and the New Orleans Saints overcame three turnovers to defeat the struggling New York Jets, 31-19 on Sunday.
Michael Thomas became the second NFL player with at least 90 receptions in his first two seasons. He caught nine passes for 93 yards, including a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown on a short slant for New Orleans (10-4), which retained its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Alvin Kamara turned a short catch into a 10-yard TD in his return from a concussion that knocked him out of the Saints’ loss at Atlanta a week earlier.
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Bryce Petty made his first start at quarterback this season for the Jets (5-9), who were eliminated from playoff contentions. Petty completed 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice – once on a tipped pass and once on a long, inconsequential throw as the game ended.
His 2-yard touchdown pass to former Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire cut New Orleans’ lead to 24-19 with 1:51 left. But the Jets’ onside kick failed and Ingram broke loose for his long score while the Saints were really just trying to run down the clock.
Drew Brees completed 26 of 36 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but also was intercepted deep in his own territory to set up a Jets field goal at the end of the first half.
Thomas made four clutch catches – three for first downs and one for a touchdown – during a fourth-quarter series that put New Orleans up 24-13.
New Orleans scored 17 points on its first three drives.
Ingram had four catches for 80 yards on the first two drives, including a 54-yard gain on a screen that set up the opening field goal. Ingram also scored the game’s first touchdown, his 10th this season, on a 1-yard run that made it 10-0.
Bilal Powell briefly pulled New York to 10-7 with his 2-yard run before New Orleans quickly answered with Kamara’s TD.
The Saints stagnated after that, however, failing to score on their next seven possessions. In addition to third-down failures, New Orleans turned the ball over three times – once deep in their own territory on Brees’ errant throw and twice inside the Jets 20 on receiver Brandon Coleman‘s fumbles.
Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams, whose interception set up the Jets’ field goal late in the first half, left in the third quarter with concussion symptoms.
Saints tight end Michael Hoomanawanui left in the first half with concussion symptoms. Right guard Larry Warford went out with concussion symptoms late in the first half after he tried to make a tackle on Williams’ interception.
“Still got the mullet! You guys remember the mullet?” – Former kicker Morton Andersen, a Saints player from 1982-1994, speaking to the Superdome crowd while being presented his Hall of Fame ring at halftime.
Jets: Host the Chargers in a game with playoff implications for San Diego.
Saints: Host the Falcons in what could be a pivotal contest in the NFC South race.
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