The New Orleans Saints (3-2) enter the BYE week with momentum after defeating the Washington Football Team (2-3) on Sunday afternoon. In the Week 5 contest, the Saints passing offense came to life connecting on multiple big plays downfield including a Hail Mary touchdown to close out the first half.
Unlike Week 4, New Orleans was able to close out the game thanks to a strong day from its defense and the ultimate playmaker, Alvin Kamara. With the victory New Orleans stay above .500 and remain just a game behind the top of the NFC South.
Below are three takeaways from the Saints' third victory of the 2021 NFL Regular Season.
Jameis Winston Gaining Momentum at a Perfect Time with Multiple Offensive Weapons Getting Healthy
The old saying goes "Rome wasn't built in a day" and neither will the relationship between Sean Payton and Jameis Winston however, Winston's growth in the Saints offense becomes more evident with every passing week. And was on full display against Washington.
On Sunday, Who Dat Nation got their first true taste of Jameis Winston's elite arm talent with two touchdowns traveling over 49 yards. Aside from the touchdown bombs that add another dimension to the Saints offense, Winston looks comfortable despite a revolving door of a supporting cast.
“We’re gonna get healthy. We’re gonna continue to work. We’re gonna put up some points.”
Jameis has played 4 games without his starting center, 2 games without his starting LT, and 5 games without his number 1 and 2 wide reciever and yet finds himself with career highs in QB rating, touchdown to interception ratio and touchdown passes per game.
The growing confidence of "Famous Jameis" comes at a near perfect time for New Orleans as the team expect wide receivers Tre'Quan Smith and Michael Thomas to return from injury in the coming weeks along with offensive lineman Erik McCoy and Terron Armstead. That group of returning players will make the Saints offense more deadly and ultimately put more toys in Jameis Winston's toy box.
Blake Gillikin Continues to Shine for New Orleans
Very rarely do punters receive high-praise from a team's starting quarterback, running back and head coach. Gillikin became the first punter since at least 2000 to have 3 punts of 53-plus yards downed inside the 3-yard line. Jameis Winston addressed the media after the victory giving the second year punter a "Shoutout" saying his performance "really helped us win the field position battle".
"He was outstanding. He was outstanding. Outstanding. Just got a game ball. One of the things we felt like in the first half, not so much the ball, the second half we played a lot of football on their end of the field."
Gillikin was awarded with a game ball following the performance. He concluded Week 5's contest with five punts for 268 yards and an average of a whopping 53.6 yards per punt.
The Penn State standout said the recognition has "meant alot" and that he would "love to not punt at all" because it means the team is doing well. But to "have that kind of game and also get a win is great."
Lattimore is Cementing NFL's Top Corner Billing
Saints cornerback had a game for the ages on Sunday against his former Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin. "Lockdown Lattimore" posted six pass break-ups, which is the most of any defensive player since 2017. Despite missing Week 2 to injury, Lattimore has 9 passes defensed (league leader) and an interception to his credit this season after signing a record-extension prior to Week 1.
"Oh definitely, I wanted Terry. I wanted to go against him. He's one of the best in the league. You know, he's my brother from Ohio State so it's all love at the end of the day. We're just out there being competitive."
The knock on Lattimore in his four-year NFL career has been his inability to find consistency throughout the regular season. Some even questioning if he was worth a large extension because of those concerns. Lattimore has quickly quieted the doubt piecing together some of his best football since entering the league in 2017.
At the beginning of the offseason there were many questions about the Saints' secondary particularly at the cornerback spot. And while much credit has to go to rookie Paulson Adebo and newly aquired Bradley Roby, the swagger and intensity of Lattimore has elevated the entire defense. It may have taken some time but the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year has solidified himself as one of the league's best corners... if not the best.
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