saintspanthers302.120317.jpg

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) hands off to New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

The New Orleans Saints were tied for third in the NFL in big plays this season, according to Washington Post statistics that defined a big play as a run of more than 10 yards and a pass of more than 25 yards.

New Orleans finished the season with 91 big plays (54 rushing, 37 passing), tied with the Chiefs behind the Los Angeles Rams (59 rushing, 35 passing) and Seattle Seahawks (60 rushing, 34 passing), who both had 94 big plays. 

The Saints ranked sixth in the NFL in big plays for both the run and the pass, one of just three teams to finish in the top 10 in both categories. 

The big plays explain how the Saints finished higher in yards per play, yards per rush and yards per pass despite finishing just 19th in the NFL in third-down conversions. 

What makes the New Orleans problems on third down a little more puzzling is that the Saints appear to be an efficient offense. Drew Brees recaptured his NFL record by completing 72 percent of his throws, the Saints gave up the second-fewest sacks and posted their best finish in turnovers since the 2013 season. 

With that out of the way, here's a look at all of the Saints' numbers this season. 

SCORING

2013: 10th, 25.9 points per game

2014: 9th, 25.1 ppg

2015: 8th, 25.5 ppg

2016: 2nd, 29.3 ppg

2017: 4th, 28.0 ppg

TOTAL YARDS

2013: 4th, 399.4 yards per game

2014: 1st, 411.4 ypg

2015: 2nd, 403.8 ypg

2016: 1st, 426.0 ypg

2017: 2nd, 391.2 ypg

YARDS PER PLAY

2013: 6th, 5.92 yards per play

2014: 5th, 6.01 ypp

2015: 4th, 5.90 ypp

2016: 3rd, 6.17 ypp

2017: 1st, 6.26 ypp

RUSHING YARDS

2013: 25th, 92.1 yards per game

2014: 13th, 113.6 ypg

2015: 24th, 93.2 ypg

2016: 16th, 108.9 ypg

2017: 5th, 129.4 ypg

YARDS PER CARRY

2013: 26th, 3.8 yards per carry

2014: 9th, 4.5 ypc

2015: 27th, 3.8 ypc

2016: 13th, 4.3 ypc

2017: 2nd, 4.7 ypc

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

2013: 23rd, 10

2014: t-5th, 16

2015: t-6th, 16

2016: t-6th, 17

2017: 1st, 23

PASSING YARDS

2013: 2nd, 307.4 yards per game

2014: 3rd, 297.8 ypg

2015: 1st, 310.6 ypg

2016: 1st, 317.1 ypg

2017: 5th, 261.8 ypg

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

2013: 2nd, 68.5 percent

2014: 1st, 69.2 percent

2015: 2nd, 69.0 percent

2016: 2nd, 70.0 percent

2017: 1st, 72.0 percent

YARDS PER ATTEMPT

2013: 5th, 7.55 ypa

2014: 7th, 7.23 ypa

2015: 5th, 7.45 ypa

2016: 4th, 7.53 ypa

2017: 1st, 8.1 ypa

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

2013: 2nd, 39 TDs

2014: 6th, 33 TDs

2015: 10th, 32 TDs

2016: t-2nd, 38 TDs

2017: t-16th, 23 TDs

INTERCEPTIONS

2013: 6th, 1.84 percent of throws

2014: 19th, 2.58 percent

2015: 6th, 1.80 percent

2016: 16th, 2.23 percent 

2017: 4th, 1.49 percent

QUARTERBACK RATING

2013: 3rd, 104.5

2014: 6th, 97.0

2015: 6th, 100.6

2016: 4th, 102.5

2017: 1st, 103.9

SACKS ALLOWED

2013: 7th, 6.55 percent of attempts, 37 sacks overall

2014: 6th, 4.55 percent, 30 sacks overall

2015: 5th, 4.80 percent, 32 sacks overall

2016: 5th, 4.01 percent, 27 sacks overall

2017: 2nd, 3.73 percent, 20 sacks overall

FIRST DOWNS

2013: 4th, 22.4 per game

2014: 1st, 24.7 per game

2015: 1st, 23.8 per game

2016: 1st, 24.7 per game

2017: t-7th, 20.8 per game

THIRD-DOWN PERCENTAGE

2013: 3rd, 43.89 percent

2014: 1st, 48.28 percent

2015: 1st, 47.71 percent

2016: 1st, 48.64 percent

2017: 19th, 37.63 percent

RED-ZONE PERCENTAGE

2013: t-12th, 56.14 percent

2014: 6th, 60 percent

2015: 11th, 60.34 percent

2016: 4th, 66.18 percent

2017: 8th, 58.18 percent

TURNOVERS

2013: t-4th, 19 (12 interceptions, seven fumbles lost)

2014: 28th, 30 (17 interceptions, 13 fumbles lost)

2015: t-11th, 20 (12 interceptions, eight fumbles lost)

2016: t-13th, 24 (15 interceptions, nine fumbles lost)

2017: t-9th, 18 (eight interceptions, 10 fumbles lost)

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.