Alvin Kamara ran for 120 yards and a touchdown in his return from a four-game absence, and the New Orleans Saints snapped a five-game losing streak with a 30-9 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
Taysom Hill ran for two scores and shook off a banged-up finger on his throwing hand to pass for 175 yards for the Saints (6-7), whose skid was their longest since Sean Payton took over as coach in 2006.
Brett Maher added three field goals and the defense stifled Zach Wilson and New York’s short-handed offense as the Jets (3-10) were eliminated from playoff contention. They have missed the postseason 11 straight years, tying the franchise’s longest drought set from 1970-80. It is also the longest active skid in the NFL.
Hill, who injured his right middle finger in the Saints’ previous game, finished 15 of 21 passing and ran for 73 yards on 11 carries.
Kamara, who missed four games with a sprained knee, looked fully healthy again while carrying the ball 27 times in his fifth career 100-yard rushing performance. He also caught four passes for 25 yards.
New York was missing wide receivers Corey Davis (groin) and Elijah Moore (quadriceps) and running backs Michael Carter (high ankle sprain) and Tevin Coleman (concussion) — and it showed. The Jets went just 3 of 14 on third down.
The rookie was coming off the best performance of his NFL career, but missed receivers short at times and overthrew them at others. He finished 19 of 42 for 202 yards.
After not getting a first down on their first three possessions, Wilson got one right away with an 18-yard scramble. He converted another a few minutes later, completing a 14-yard pass to a sliding Braxton Berrios on fourth-and-7 from the 35. But the drive stalled and Eddy Pineiro, the Jets’ third kicker in as many games, booted a 36-yard field goal to tie it at 3 — prompting some mock cheers from the MetLife Stadium crowd.
A few minutes later, an interference penalty by Justin Hardee on a punt by the Jets put the Saints at their 46 to start. And Kamara sliced through the Jets’ porous run defense.
On his fourth straight carry, Kamara took the handoff from Hill, made a pretty juke to slip a tackle attempt by Bryce Hall and then zipped into the end zone for a 16-yard TD that gave New Orleans a 10-3 lead. Kamara had 35 yards on four carries on the drive.
Pineiro ended the first half with a 46-yarder to make it 10-6. The Jets got down to the Saints 24, but consecutive penalties on wide receiver Denzel Mims — illegal hands to the face and illegal formation — hindered the drive.
Maher’s 31-yarder increased the Saints’ lead to 13-6 with 58 seconds left in the third quarter after New Orleans chewed up 9:01 on the drive. Maher added a 37-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
With the Jets trailing by two scores, they went for it on fourth-and-6 from their 49 and Wilson’s pass to Keelan Cole went off the receiver’s outstretched hands as Marcus Williams disrupted the play.
That gave the Saints the ball and Hill capped the drive with a 2-yard TD run. He capped his day with a 44-yard touchdown scamper — the longest of his career — with 1:07 remaining.
Jets RB Austin Walter was active but didn’t play because of an illness, the team announced midway through the second quarter.
The Jets held a moment of silence before the game in honor of former wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who died Thursday night in his suburban Atlanta home at 33.
Thomas played the last of his 10 NFL seasons with the Jets in 2019, catching 36 passes for 433 yards and a touchdown in 11 games. The Jets showed a picture of Thomas in his New York jersey on Sunday with the words: “In Memory of Demaryius Thomas. 1987-2021.”
Saints: Take on Tom Brady and the NFC South-rival Buccaneers in Tampa Bay next Sunday night.
Jets: Head to Miami next Sunday to take on the AFC East-rival Dolphins, who won the first meeting last month.
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