By Lewis Gould

The New Orleans Saints made the Eagles once-stout defense look like a Pop Warner crew as they shredded the Birds 48-7.

The Eagles’ defensive scheme seemed designed primarily to slow down Michael Thomas, New Orleans’ superstar wide receiver, but quarterback Drew Brees just threw more to Tre’Quan Smith, a rookie who smashed his career-high of three catches by piling up 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown.

And even with the added emphasis on Thomas, the receiver was hardly silent, catching all four passes thrown to him for 92 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown early in the third quarter in which he simply outran the coverage.

After seeing the Birds’ strategy, Brees issued a challenge of sorts to opposing defenses hoping to slow down the Saints by limiting Thomas.

“When we get out on the field, we don’t know who is going to have the matchup, but once we find it we’re going to try to exploit it,” Brees said after the game. “If a team is bound and determined to take certain guys away, then we’ve got answers.”

It was nearly an afterthought that New Orleans ran for 173 yards. Mark Ingram led the effort with 103 yards and two touchdowns.

The Saints’ defense, which had struggled early in the season, continued to look like a playoff-caliber unit.

New Orleans limited the Eagles to 196 yards of total offense; Wentz threw three interceptions and completed 19 of 33 passes for 156 yards.

The Eagles’ rushers combined for just 58 yards.