Saints’ monumental rout means 16-0 within grasp

NEW ORLEANS – Give Sean Payton credit. The New Orleans Saints coach contained himself a whole lot better than New England contained his offense.

In the aftermath of a stunning 38-17 dismantling of the Patriots on Monday night at the Superdome, Payton said all the right things. The closest he came to bragging was when he slipped, oh so slightly, and called quarterback Drew Brees’(notes) performance “magnificent.” Other than that, Payton sold the victory as another good day at the office, but certainly nothing to hang the hopes and dreams of a season on.

OK, maybe we’ll buy that. But at a time when the term “statement win” is vastly overused, this game actually qualified. On Monday, the Saints laid waste to the Patriots, putting on an offensive and defensive performance that made the gap between them and most of the rest of the NFL a chasm.

At 11-0, the Saints are tied with Indianapolis for the best record in the league, one game ahead of Minnesota. But anyone who saw New England play Indianapolis on Nov. 15 will tell you that what the Saints did to the Patriots was scary good by comparison.

Start with Brees, who completed 18 of 23 passes for 371 yards, five touchdowns for a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 (don’t ask why, but that’s the best you can get in the rating formula).