The New Orleans Saints got their mojo working once again.


The New Orleans Saints got their mojo working once again.

Well, they got it back at least for one week. Whether or not it’s here to stay shall be determined in upcoming games.

For the time being at least, the Saints can enjoy their first clear-cut victory of the season, a 31-6 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The win resembled the kind of triumphs the team had last season as it marched to its first Super Bowl.

The Saints stepped up Sunday after an uncharacteristic showing in a loss to Arizona last week. Facing a rising Tampa Bay team in an NFC?South game, New Orleans needed to make a statement.

It’s still early in the season, and the losses to Atlanta and Arizona can be proven as flukes if the Saints can mount a long winning streak as they did in going 13-0 to start 2009.

New Orleans has fared well considering the rash of injuries that have claimed key players. The Saints have had success despite this. At running back, for example, Chris Ivory has stepped in and shown flashes of his talent. He had a breakout performance Sunday as he ran for 158 yards. Ladell Betts and newly-signed Julius Jones have also contributed as starters Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush recover from injuries.

Quarterback Drew Brees connected on big plays in the passing game, something that had been largely missing through the early part of the season. Brees hit Lance Moore on a 41-yard touchdown, then found Robert Meachem for a 42-yard score. He also spread the ball around, throwing to Marques Colston five times, Jeremy Shockey twice and Heath Evans on a touchdown. Ten different players caught passes Sunday as Brees recorded 263 yards.

Defensively, the Saints held the Bucs’ leading rusher, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, to just 18 yards on 10 carries. To borrow a phrase from the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Cadillac blew a tire.

Lost in the excitement of the win was kicker Garrett Hartley’s miss on a 33-yard field goal try. It feels like I’m telling this to a friend who’s been cheated on more than once:?It’s time to move on. Yes, I understand there was a magical spark with him in the past, but the thrill is gone. This is the NFL. There’s no excuse for missing field goals that are around 30 yards or less. Most kickers are automatic from that range. Anyone who misses more than a few chip shots should be cut.

Every game except the last one has been close. If that trend continues, that means accurate kicking will be a necessity.

The Saints haven’t played the cream of the NFL so far. Better teams are yet to come.

Minnesota (2-3), San Francisco (1-5), Carolina (0-5) all have losing records so far, and also represent three of the Saints’ wins. Though Tampa Bay stands at 3-2, all of the wins came against teams with losing records.