EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There was a remedy for the New York Giants: Rodney Hampton running against the NFL's worst defense.
Hampton ran for 149 yards and scored a team-record four rushing touchdowns and the Giants amassed 474 yards and 31 first downs in beating the New Orleans Saints, 45-29, Sunday.
"Things couldn't go bad forever," Hampton said. "Things have to turn around. That's the way I look at it. Today we did some good things, but we still have a long way to go."
The last three weeks had been brutal for the Giants, who were limited to 23 points and an average 250.7 yards in losing their first three games, the worst start in Coach Dan Reeves' career.
The performance even prompted former Pro Bowl linebacker Lawrence Taylor to stop by on Wednesday to give the team a motivational speech.
However, one game against the Saints (0-4) made everyone forget the previous three weeks.
"They pounded us pretty good," New Orleans Coach Jim Mora said. "Our defense played very poorly. We couldn't stop much of anything, especially the running game and that got worse as things went on. They stuck it to us and wore us down physically. We're at a pretty low ebb."
The points were the most by the Giants since a 49-3 playoff victory over San Francisco in 1986, and the 31 first downs were the third most in club history.
New York's 218 yards rushing were 65 less than its total for the first three games, losses to Dallas, Kansas City and Green Bay.
"We executed, we made some plays and Rodney ran well," Giant offensive line coach Pete Mangurian said. "Once you start thinking you can make plays, you do. The worst thing is to think you can't. Self doubt will destroy you and it was pretty hard not to have that after our first three games."
Getting Hampton going and bouncing back from two early deficits removed that doubt.
Hampton, without a touchdown all season, scored on runs of one, five, two and three yards, the last two set up by third-quarter interceptions by Vencie Glenn.
New York quarterback Dave Brown completed 19 of 27 passes for 258 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Chris Calloway.