NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - With a capacity crowd of zero, the Saints opened their season in one of the strangest circumstances of all time.
An empty, fanless, and stone-cold silent Superdome.
“It was different, I’m not going to lie. You run out, and you’re used to the energy and the emotion in the Dome. The fans obviously with each and every play, you’re waiting for that fan reaction,” said Drew Brees.
“It was eery man, it was definitely uncharacteristic for sure. It was very different,” said Jared Cook.
“Just sort of felt like we were at a Tampa Bay game,” said Cam Jordan.
But once the game got going, Tom Brady and his new team looked sharp. They went 85 yards in nine plays with ease. Aided by two pass interference penalties, they took an early 7-0 lead.
Offensively the Saints struggled to get going.
"Offensively that was as bad a game as I’ve had as a playcaller. Just trying to find a rhythm and tempo, it was awful.
But in the second quarter, the Saints found a groove, and paydirt twice. Both came from the newly-paid Alvin Kamara. Once on a screen, and the other on a run.
“I felt pretty good. Like I said, a little bit of a slow start but we got going, put some points up and made some big plays. I’m feeling good and just happy to be back,” said Alvin Kamara.
Defensively, the saints adjusted, and never looked back. Marcus Williams picked off Brady, while Janoris Jenkins did the same. But he finished his in the end zone to put the Saints up, 24-7. On a play Jenkins credits to film study of Bruce Arians offense.
“Anticipation, communication. Knowing what came early in the game, and what’s coming late in the game. You got to know that playing defensive back, and we talked about it, communicated it on the sideline, and it came,” said Janoris Jenkins.
But Brady and the Bucs battled, and cut the lead to 24-17. That’s when Brees audibled at the line, and found Cook downfield for a 46-yard completion.
"Offensively we had two three and outs, and we really didn’t manage that third quarter. So fourth quarter, we knew we needed an explosive play to get us going. I had the opportunity to check to a play that I felt had some downfield opportunities.Jared got behind the defense, and we got a big play.
Three plays later, Brees hit Emmanuel Sanders for his first touchdown as a Saint, to go up two scores, 31-17.
A facemask penalty on the sanders touchdown, gave the Saints a short kickoff. Thomas morstead pooched it, the Bucs fumbled, and Bennie Fowler recovered.
It was part of a stellar effort by the Saints special teams. Deonte Harris also had some nice returns. While Margus Hunt blocked a first half Bucs field goal.
So whether it was offense, defense, or special teams. In the end, all that matters is that Saints are now 1-0.
“I thought it was a great team win. We’re going to look at the tape, and see a lot of mistakes in all areas of this game. We can get so much better in so many areas. At the end of the day we got a win against a really good opponent,” said Brees.
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