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Alvin Kamara ties NFL mark with six rushing TDs as Saints beat Vikings, win NFC South

Saints running back Alvin Kamara carries the ball in front of Vikings safety Anthony Harris and cornerback Jeff Gladney.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara carries the ball in front of Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris and cornerback Jeff Gladney (20) on Friday. The Saints won 52-33.
(Brett Duke / Associated Press)

Alvin Kamara tied an NFL record by running for six touchdowns in a game and finished with a career-high 155 yards rushing to help New Orleans beat the Minnesota Vikings 52-33 on Friday and clinch a fourth consecutive NFC South title.

Wearing different-colored shoes — one red and one green on Christmas Day — Kamara sprinted for a 40-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive. He added scoring runs of one, five, six, seven and three yards against a Minnesota defensive front hit hard by injuries.

Kamara equaled a record set by Hall of Fame fullback Ernie Nevers in 1929 for the Chicago Cardinals.

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“It just feels good to have one of those days, just for the team,” Kamara said, showering credit on the offensive line and insisting that he did “the small part.”

“I’m not focused on personal, like, goals and yards and stuff like that,“ Kamara continued. “As long as the team has success, then personal success will come.”

And it has come all season for Kamara, who during training camp signed a five-year contract worth up to $75 million. He has since set Saints records for rushing touchdowns in a season with 16 and total touchdowns with 21 (he has five receiving).

As for wearing shoes that didn’t conform to the NFL’s uniform codes, Kamara said: “If they fine me, whatever it is, I’ll just match it and donate to charity. You know, the Grinch always tries to steal Christmas.”

Minnesota (6-9) was eliminated from playoff contention while allowing the most points by any Vikings team since 1963.

“They just mashed us up front,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, calling his defense “the worst one I’ve ever had“ as a coach. “We couldn’t slow them down. It would be eight-yard gain, seven-yard gain.”

The Saints (11-4) never punted and set a record of yards gained in a game by a Vikings opponent with 583. They might have won by a greater margin if not for a pair interceptions of Drew Brees, one of them on a pass that deflected off wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders’ hands.

Brees completed 19 of 26 throws for 311 yards in his second game back from rib and lung injuries that had sidelined him for four games.

Sanders had four catches for 83 yards, while tight end Jared Cook caught three passes for 82 yards. New Orleans’ 264 yards rushing were the most by a Vikings opponent in Zimmer’s seven seasons as coach.

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New Orleans native Irv Smith Jr. caught a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter for the Vikings, the second pulling Minnesota to within 31-27. But the Saints responded with two short touchdown runs by Kamara and one by reserve quarterback Taysom Hill in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Saints coach Sean Payton, who spent part of his youth in the Chicago area, was thinking about Gale Sayers’ six-touchdown game (four rushing, two receiving) for the Bears against San Francisco in 1965 when he called the play that led to Kamara’s sixth TD with just less than two minutes left.

“I’d say most of these players have no idea how good Gale Sayers was,” Payton said, adding that Kamara’s touchdown total “was a big deal. He played fantastic.”

Kirk Cousins passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns for the Vikings, who never led and trailed for good after Kamara’s second touchdown in the first quarter.

Saints linebacker Kwan Alexander injured his right ankle late in the third quarter. He was initially helped off the field but later took a cart from the sideline to the locker room.

Up next, the Vikings visit Detroit on Jan. 3, the final Sunday of the regular season. The Saints will visit Carolina on Jan. 3.


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