JACKSONVILLE -- This wasn't supposed to be the start many expected for the Saints. Virtually no one believed that the team could do much without Drew Brees at the helm, and there were plenty of questions surrounding them coming into the season. Being displaced and even facing a mostly Packers crowd in Jacksonville certainly didn't bode too well for Sean Payton's squad.
However, that wasn't the case. New Orleans completely dominated Green Bay on Sunday, and they ended up starting their season off with a huge statement win.
The Packers won the coin toss and put the pressure on the Saints offense led by Jameis Winston to start the game. Winston and company had a good drive to open, going 49 yards in 9 plays to put the first points up of the season from a 44-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal. Winston found Marquez Callaway pretty early for a 14-yard pickup, but it was his legs that helped the Saints move down the field.
Defensively, New Orleans had a strong outing that saw an immediate tackle for loss by Marcus Davenport on the first Packers offensive play. Kwon Alexander made two great back-to-back plays, tackling Davante Adams after a short pass and then following that up with stopping Aaron Jones short of the first down marker in space. The Packers would go for it and convert the 4th Down conversion, but New Orleans would force a punt.
The second offensive drive had a little bit of everything, as it went 15 plays for 79 yards and took 7:51 off the clock. Good runs by Tony Jones Jr. and Alvin Kamara helped set things up, and Winston connected with Deonte Harris for a 17-yard hookup and then ran for a first down on a 3rd-and-8 play to extend the drive. Going into the second quarter, the Saints were threatening to score and did after a Winston toss credited as a pass to Alvin Kamara to take it in from 3 yards out and make it 10-0 Saints.
New Orleans only gave the Packers a few plays on the next defensive series, and then went back to work on offense. This time, the Saints put together another 15-play drive that went 80 yards and took 10 minutes off the clock to make it 17-0. One of the biggest plays involved a 4th Down conversion to Juwan Johnson on a tight end screen, and the other that resulted in a score was a Winston to Johnson touchdown pass.
Rodgers would have enough time to get the Packers on the board before halftime, going 49 yards in 6 plays to set up a 39-yard Mason Crosby field goal and make it 17-3. Rodgers made an outstanding throw to Davante Adams for 31 yards to help get the Packers into field goal range.
Green Bay would get things going offensively, marching down the field in 10 plays to threaten from inside the Saints' 10-yard-line. To start the half, Marshon Lattimore was not on the team's sideline, which forced recent veteran pickup Desmond Trufant into the lineup. He had some good plays, but there was also one where he appeared to not be on the right side of the formation. Just as Lattimore was returning to the sideline, Paulson Adebo ended the Packers drive by getting the first pick of his career after the Saints did a good job of pressuring Rodgers.
New Orleans wouldn't be able to capitalize on this drive, as a false start penalty by Adam Trautman moved them back and the 3rd-and-11 could not be converted. Our first real Blake Gillikin experience went very well, as his punt was downed perfectly by Ty Montgomery at the Packers' 5-yard-line. Green Bay would struggle to make it out of the shadow of their own goal post, and it would cost them as Marcus Williams intercepted a Rodgers prayer and had a very nice return to set the Saints up in the red zone.
It took the Saints just 3 plays to get into the end zone from 12 yards out, as Winston found Chris Hogan for the touchdown on a 3rd-and-8. New Orleans went up 24-3 with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
The Packers muffed the ensuing kick return and started with horrible field position. After failing to get a first down in their first several plays, they elected to go for it from 4th-and-1 and came up empty after Marshon Lattimore broke up the pass intended for Davante Adams.
New Orleans would take advantage of the short field again and get into the end zone after Winston got his fourth touchdown pass of the game, this time to Juwan Johnson from 8 yards out. The Saints did benefit from a roughing the pass call that originally was an interception in the end zone. The play could have also resulted in a defensive pass interference call.
The Packers continued to struggle offensively, not being able to get anything going. Even when they did, penalties came up and they'd eventually punt the ball away. The Saints put the exclamation point on the game after Winston got his fifth touchdown pass, connecting with Deonte Harris on a 55-yard deep shot. The Saints went up 38-3 with 10:46 left in the game.
New Orleans ended up chasing Aaron Rodgers, as the Packers turned to Jordan Love on the ensuing possession. The Saints didn't do much on the next series, focusing on chewing clock. Jordan Love would lead the Packers and threaten to at least get a garbage time touchdown, but Tanoh Kpassagnon had other plans to force a sack-fumble that was recovered by Kaden Elliss.
Jameis Winston ends up being the fourth Saints quarterback in franchise history to have at least 5 passing touchdowns in a game. He joins Drew Brees, Aaron Brooks, and Billy Kilmer. New Orleans will be on the road in Week 2, as they have their first NFC South game of the season against the Panthers.
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