Top 10 Defining Saints Moments from 2020: #5 - COVID-19 Scare vs Lions in Week 4 Victory

The most defining moments from the New Orleans Saints' 2020 campaign. At #5, the Saints resurgent victory over the Lions despite a COVID-19 scare just hours before kickoff.
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The New Orleans Saints' 2020 season has come and gone following their NFC Divisional Round loss to the Super Bowl LV champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite falling short of their ultimate goal of a Super Bowl title, New Orleans claimed their 4th consecutive NFC South title and displayed resilience in the face of adversity.

The #5 ranked moment came back in Week 4 as the Saints traveled to Detroit to take on the Lions and faced a COVID-19 scare just over 12 hours before kickoff.

Under Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints have struggled in September, posting a 25-26 record since 2006. The Saints suffered back-to-back losses against the Raiders and Packers in Weeks 2 and 3, falling to 1-2 on the season with the Detroit Lions next on the schedule.

Under Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints have struggled in September, posting a 25-26 record since 2006. The Saints suffered back-to-back losses against the Raiders and Packers in Weeks 2 and 3, falling to 1-2 on the season with the Detroit Lions next on the schedule.

The Saints were in dire need of a victory to turn their early-season woes around. However, this matchup would not be a walk in the park. New Orleans faced adversity throughout the week, and as it progressed, the adversity grew.

Saints Plagued With Injuries


Leading up to the Week 4 matchup, five Saints missed practice and were downgraded to OUT. New Orleans was going to be without both starting CBs: Marshon Lattimore and Jenoris Jenkins. Along with fellow starters DE Marcus Davenport, TE Jared Cook, and G Andrus Peat. On top of all these injuries, New Orleans was still without their Star WR, Michael Thomas, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 1.

The Saints defense was going to have to step up in the absence of multiple starters and a big chunk of their secondary unit. In what felt like a must win game for the Black and Gold, the Saints were forced to play their best game of the year without their top players.

The Night Before the Game; COVID-19 Scare

Saints FB Michael Burton

Just when you thought things couldn’t go worse, leading up to the team’s arrival to Detroit Saturday night, FB Michael Burton tested positive for COVID-19.

The team immediately tested all close contacts for Covid-19 and ordered rapid tests but didn’t receive the kits till almost 3:00 AM CT.

The biggest scare was that the Saints could be without RB Alvin Kamara, who was a close contact of Burton. Overall, around 20 members of the Saints were tested in the early hours of Sunday morning and awaited results.

The time was now 6:00 AM CT, just hours away from kickoff. FB Michael Burton, who initially tested positive, had now tested negative twice. The second test and rapid test both came back negative. The game remained on as scheduled.

Game Time


After a long night, the game was to be played as scheduled, and the COVID-19 scare was over. Despite the events of the night and morning prior, there remained plenty at stake for the Saints. The quicker New Orleans could put the restless night behind them, the better off they would be going into the game.

Detroit came out scorching and scored on their first drive of the game with an 8-play drive, racking up 77-yards, and a touchdown to take the early 7-0 lead.

On the first possession for the Saints, Drew Brees’ pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted. Three plays later, the Lions punched in a touchdown to improve their lead 14-0 in the game's opening five minutes.

As adversity continued to rise for the Saints, they responded with a 13-play drive ending in the end zone. RB Latavius Murray scored the Saints’ first touchdown and brought some life back into the Saints' sideline.

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The scoring drive looked to be the boost the Saints needed, heading into the locker room with a 14 point lead behind WR Tre’Quan Smith's two first-half touchdowns.

Right out of the halftime break, New Orleans found pay dirt again. Latavius Murray capped off a 10-play drive scoring his 2nd touchdown of the game and giving the Saints a commanding lead over the Lions.

The Lions were able to score two touchdowns in the second half, but their comeback effort fell short, as the Saints rose victorious by the score of 35-29. With the victory, the Saints moved to 2-2 on the season and ended the team’s two-game losing streak.

In a week of many unforeseen events, the Saints overcame injuries and a COVID-19 scare to end their losing streak and hop back into the NFC South race. Week 4 served as a pinnacle point of the season, not only with the victory but showing the resilience of this team in the face of adversity, something they would repeatedly face during the season.

With the victory, the Saints would begin a 9-game winning streak and cement themselves as true Super Bowl contenders. Thus, putting their Week 4 victory in the face of adversity at #5 on our top 10 defining moments of the 2020 season.

Saints News Intern Joe McGuan contributed to the Article Series: Top 10 Defining Moments of Saints 2020 Season.

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