Brian Allee-Walsh

Saints reach 2-2, dominate Miami in London with a capital 'D'

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, left, scores a touchdown against Miami Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, left, scores a touchdown against Miami Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley. Associated Press

Here we go again.

It's only the beginning of October but the New Orleans Saints have reached a critical point in their season — the .500 mark.

They find themselves at 2-2 after dominating the listless Miami Dolphins 20-nil before a sellout crowd of 84,423 Sunday at historic Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The Saints have not been north of .500 since the end of the 2013 season, 52 games and counting. In each of the past three seasons, they have rebounded from poor starts to reach the 4-4 mark, only to lose Game 9 and eventually finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs.

They now have a bye week to pause and reflect on the first quarter of the season before resuming play against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 15 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

As well as the Black and Gold played against Miami — and they did, especially on defense for a second consecutive week -- the road weary Dolphins looked like fish out of water.

All you need to know is Miami had as many penalties as first downs (11), becoming the first opponent to go scoreless against the Saints since Week 15 of the 2012 Bounty-gate season (Tampa Bay, 41-0).

Credit Saints coordinator Dennis Allen and his young, enthusiastic defensive unit, which thwarted the Dolphins' only scoring threat on a game-opening 12-play, 91-yard drive with an end zone interception by cornerback Ken Crawley. After that, Miami and quarterback Jay Cutler were silenced, producing just 95 yards on 35 plays and failing to cross the Saints' 40 on their final eight possessions.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was his usually proficient self, completing 29 of 41 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

The Saints committed no turnovers, joining the 2013 Tennessee Titans and '95 St. Louis Rams as the only teams in NFL history to go turnover-free in their first four games.

Two Saints injuries worth noting — rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone (right shoulder) and veteran right tackle Zach Strief who returned to the lineup after missing the past 2  1/2 games with a sprained right knee.

On a positive note, rookie tackle Ryan Ramczyk continues to play well and veteran blindside tackle Terron Armstead should be available to play against the Lions after missing the past four months with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Ramczyk has played in Armstead's absence and would shift to right tackle if Strief misses time.

"We're getting a little bit better each week,'' Brees said, alluding to a 34-13 win at Carolina in Week 3 and now the total domination of the Dolphins.

Beating the offensive challenged Panthers and Dolphins is one thing.

I suspect the resurgent Saints will have to kick it up a notch in all phases against Detroit and at Green Bay in Weeks 6 and 7 when play resumes.

First things first —the Lions and dare I say 3-2!

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