The New Orleans Saints (7-2) defeated the San Francisco 49ers (4-6) by the score of 27-13 Sunday afternoon from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Without QB Drew Brees in the second-half the Saints held on to their lead and did just enough offensively to pull out the W. Here are three initial takeaways from New Orleans' sixth consecutive win.
The First Real Look at "Famous Jameis" in Black and Gold
The New Orleans Saints trotted out of the halftime break with an unfamiliar face leading the offense, Jameis Winston. The former first-overall selection was forced into the lineup after starting QB Drew Brees suffered an injury to his ribs on a rushing the passer hit during the first-half. Despite the hit, Brees was able to finish the first half scoring on a 3-yard TD pass to Alvin Kamara.
The extent of Brees' injury and if he will miss any time moving forward is unknown but Sunday's action provided NFL fans and media the first meaningful look at Jameis Winston as the potential QB of the New Orleans Saints.
Winston, who signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Saints this offseason, concluded the action completing 6-of-10 for 63 yards and 0 TDs. In a half of action, the Saints' playbook seemed slightly simplified for Winston, including a handful of screens. While it did not look pretty, Winston did his job securing the win for the Saints. However, the verdict is still out on him becoming the next QB of the Saints.
The Defense Won the Game for New Orleans
After a dominant performance against Tampa Bay just a week ago, the question coming into this week was... “The Saints' defensive performance last week, was it a fluke?” It looked that way after the 49ers' opening drive went 13 plays for 75-yards and a score. But following that drive that took over 7 minutes off the clock, the Saints defense locked in.
Dennis Allen's defense surrendered just 281 yards and 13 points on Sunday afternoon, while forcing 49ers QB Nick Mullens into 2 INTs. In the second half, without Drew Brees manning the offense, the defense allowed only three points and kept a stagnant offense in the lead.
The defense continues to grow posting back to back stellar outings and performing like the group that was hyped up to be among the NFC's best all off-season. With struggling Atlanta, Denver, and Philly up next, the Saints are poised to continue to show they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders and it all starts with the play of the defense.
Gardner-Johnson Plays the Best Game of His Young Career
C.J, Chauncey, Ceedy... However, you may know him, No. 22 in the black and gold had his best game as a pro on Sunday afternoon. The former Florida Gator created havoc from the opening kick. Gardner-Johnson's presence from the EDGE as a box safety affected all phases of the 49ers offense. His relentless pursuit consistently put him in positions to make plays on the ball carrier or quarterback.
The second-year safety was all over the field racking up 8 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 pass defensed, 3 QB Hits and his first career sack against the 49ers. The MVP of the Saints defense in Week 10 showed his versatility, motor, and energy that makes him such a vital piece to the Saints Super Bowl aspirations.
Gardner-Johnson left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury to his left arm and did not return.
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