Kamara ran for six touchdowns — tied for the most in NFL history with Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals in 1929 — as the New Orleans Saints clinched their fourth straight NFC South title with a 52-33 victory in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
According to the NFL Record and Fact Book, Nevers’ milestone was tied for the league’s longest-standing record.
Kamara, who was decked out in a pair of Christmas-themed, green-and-red cleats that will probably draw a fine, is only the fourth player to score six TDs of any kind in a game, joining Nevers, Dub Jones (1951) and Gale Sayers (1965), according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
“It’s crazy. The O-line did a great job; I really didn’t have to do too much. And the receivers did a great job setting the edge and coming across and doing the dirty work,” Kamara said. “It just feels good to have one of those days, just for the team, just for offensive morale. Like I always say, I’m not focused on personal goals and yards and stuff like that. As long as the team has success, then personal success will come.”
In the process, Kamara also set a franchise record with 21 touchdowns on the season. He registered a personal best with 155 rushing yards in a game, and he now has a career-high 932 rushing yards and 1,688 yards from scrimmage this season.
He also established a career high with 83 catches on the season — ending his unusual streak of exactly 81 catches in each of his first three seasons. Kamara was named to his fourth Pro Bowl earlier this week.
Kamara said he first became aware of the league record when he asked running backs coach Joel Thomas after his third TD run in the first half.
“He came back to me and told me six, and I was like, ‘S—, let’s go,'” Kamara said.
He insisted he had no problem with coach Sean Payton deciding to let quarterback Taysom Hill score on a 1-yard keeper late in the fourth quarter, when Kamara was still one short of the record.
“I was just like, ‘It’s all good. I’m second, at least,'” Kamara said.
But after a 41-yard catch by tight end Adam Trautman that put the Saints back at Minnesota’s 3-yard line right before the two-minute warning, Payton told Kamara to get on the field — and Kamara said he told the offensive line, “Get me in there; let’s get it.”
The unit capped Kamara’s sixth TD with a group snow-angel celebration in the end zone.
“It was a great moment,” Kamara said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with another group.”
Payton offered his take.
“Obviously, his performance was unbelievable,” Payton said of Kamara. “I would say most of these players have no idea how good Gale Sayers was; but growing up in Chicago, certainly you were familiar with his ability.
“It was a big deal. He played fantastic today. And look, Minnesota was banged up too. They had a lot of new faces playing linebacker. It’s been a little unusual year that way.”
New Orleans took advantage of Minnesota’s injury-depleted defense by running for 264 yards — the Saints’ second-highest total since 1986.
Kamara’s cleats might draw interest in Canton, Ohio — and in the NFL offices, because they don’t match team uniform colors.
Kamara also wore Christmas-themed cleats during his rookie season in 2017, which drew a $6,079 fine that Kamara promised to match with a charity donation. He said he would do the same this time.
“If they fine me, whatever it is, I’ll just match it and donate it to charity,” Kamara said. “You know, the Grinch always tries to steal Christmas.”
The Saints (11-4) still have an outside chance at the NFC’s No. 1 seed but will need some help. They finish their season at the Carolina Panthers next week.
The Vikings (6-9) were eliminated from playoff contention in defeat.
The Saints leaned heavily on Kamara and the run game while quarterback Drew Brees was still shaking off some rust from the broken ribs and punctured lung that sidelined him from Weeks 11 to 14. Brees threw two interceptions on Friday for the first time since the 2017 season, and he had two other tipped passes that were in jeopardy of being picked off.
Brees did finish with 311 passing yards, however, completing 19 of 26 passes.
The Saints’ defense also was a little beaten up on a short week. On Sunday, they tied a franchise record with 92 snaps played in a 32-29 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and lost two key starters to injuries — safety Marcus Williams (ankle) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (neck).