Waddle shines as Dolphins defeat Saints 20-3 in 7th straight

NEW ORLEANS (AP), The Dolphins' defense intercepted Saints rookie Ian Book twice, and then sacked him eight more times was likely enough to extend Miami's winning streak of seven games.

Waddle shines as Dolphins defeat Saints 20-3 in 7th straight

Jaylen Waddle, a rookie sensation, gave Miami a huge boost to beat New Orleans on both ends of the ball.

In his return from COVID-19, Waddle caught 10 passes, resulting in 92 yards and a touchdown for the Dolphins. The Dolphins defeated the Saints on Monday night 20-3, becoming the first NFL team that has won seven consecutive games after seven losses.

Brian Flores, a third-year coach at Miami, said that the team remained together throughout the year. He improved to 19-7 after October's games. "Obviously, there was a lot of difficulty early in the year. It revealed a lot about the character of our locker room men.

Flores said, "Our men kept fighting, and they continued sticking together, they worked hard,"

Book was intercepted by Nik Needham, who returned the ball 28 yard for a touchdown. This helped Miami to become one of the four 8-7 teams in contention for the last playoff spot in the AFC.

Book was started by the Saints (8-8) because of the COVID-19 epidemic that saw 16 players taken off the active roster, including Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill, the starting quarterback.

Needham stated, "Rookie quarterback -- We mixed up some looks on his," "Had him a little lost out there and that I believe played a major part."

Book completed 12 passes for 135 yards, despite the Saints offensive line being without three starters.

Saints coach Sean Payton stated that "just keeping him upright tonight was difficult." "The first interception was a throw that he will want back, but it's a difficult position for him."

With 5:10 remaining in the third quarter, Waddle scored on a Tua Tagovailoa 1-yard shovel pass to make it 17-3.

Tagovailoa had a 69.9% completion percentage, which was an NFL record. He completed 19 of 26 passes (73.1%) to gain 198 yards and a short touchdown. Marshon Lattimore intercepted him as well.

THE WADDLE EFFECT

Because of a positive COVID-19, Waddle missed Miami’s last game. This season, he has 96 catches, surpassing New Orleans' Michael Thomas' record for rookie-record of 101 catches.

Waddle stated that if Waddle breaks the record, "it'll clearly be pretty cool".

He said, "The NFL is a special team, so any record in this league is always great."

OPENING OF THE BOOK

Book received a cheer from the crowd as he took to the field for the first time. Saints fans cheered again two plays later, when he completed his first career pass. They let out a collective gasp when Needham's pick-6 was completed.

Needham stated that a "max-blitz" was what helped him get his first interception at any level of football.

Needham said that "we knew the ball needed to be out quickly so I was staring at him and right when he said, "Hut," he was looking at his slot." "I believe the ball was tipped and it landed in my hands."

Book's second series, which lasted three plays each, ended with sacks. New Orleans did not get a first quarter. The drive took five plays.

On their fifth series, the Saints moved the ball. They only needed four plays to get three first downs. New Orleans was moved to Miami 23 by Alvin Kamara's 12-yard completion. This set up Brett Maher’s field goal that made it 10-3.

Book stated that he personally has a lot of things to improve on. "I have things in my head that I want to return, but it was good to be there."

Cam Jordan's second sack in the second quarter forced Miami into attempting a 59 yard field goal. Jason Sanders missed the attempt, keeping the Saints' lead at one touchdown at the half.

SUPERLATIVES

Eight sacks by the Dolphins were a record for a Dolphins game. They were the first Super Bowl era team to score a defensive TD, have eight sacks and keep an opponent under 200 yards. On third down, the Saints were 0 for 12.

INJURIES/COVID-19

Dolphins: Miami was without seven players due to COVID-19 when they entered the game.

Saints: New Orleans removed 16 players from their active roster due to positive COVID-19 testing. New Orleans also scratched Terron Armstead from the starting left tackle position, as he was still recovering from a knee injury sustained the week before. Caleb Benenoch, reserve right tackle, was treated for an injury on the field in the fourth quarter. Tre'Quan Smith, the receiver, was injured in his chest and left the game.

NEXT

Dolphins: Sunday visit Tennessee before closing the regular season against AFC East rival New England.

Saints: Sunday, NFC South foe Carolina hosts Saints before heading to Atlanta to close the regular season.

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