After Further Review: Five takes from Saints win over Packers
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: The dominance no one saw coming
Attention all liars that knew Sunday was going to happen.
No, you didn’t.
That’s completely fine. No one did. At least not a 38-3 drumming of a legitimate Super Bowl contender with the league MVP at quarterback. Who could’ve possibly seen that, especially when you consider the circumstances the Saints had to deal with.
Then it happened.
From the game’s first drive, the Saints were in total control and never looked back. It was as complete and as complimentary of an effort as we’ve seen in the Sean Payton era.
Now, they’re a very well-earned 1-0.
Take Two: Winning the trenches
An effort like that doesn’t take place without winning the line of scrimmage. For the Saints, on both sides of the ball, they dominated in the trenches.
Offensively, the line completely wore out the Packers front. They finished with 39 carries for 171 yards on the ground. Their first two touchdown drives were both 15 plays a piece. That led to an incredible 21:09-8:50 edge in time of possession at the break. The Packers only had three drives in the entire first half.
Defensively, the Packers were never able to the get ground game going, and they constantly pressured Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay only converted 1/10 on third downs.
The complementary nature of both lines of scrimmage playing at that level was as close to flawless as we’ve seen in a while. It’s going to be hard to beat the Saints if they’re able to continue that play.
Take Three: Winston plays smart football
What stood out most about Jameis Winston’s performance was just how much he trusted Payton, and executed what Payton asked him to do. Sure, he benefited from stellar line play, but complemented them with smart decisions with the football. He never look surprised or got impatient. Winston was clean and efficient for most of the game.
Then came the 10:46 mark of the fourth quarter, when he dropped a bomb to Deonte Harris for 55 yards that put the exclamation point on their first victory of the season.
The throw was bound to happen given just how much the Saints were able to run the ball. Winston said after the game, when Payton called that play, it was timed and executed perfectly.
Winston only had 143 passing yards but every one of them seem to be productive. And of course five touchdown passes to four different receivers: Alvin Kamara, Juwan Johnson (twice), Chris Hogan and Harris. By the way, those last three are all undrafted players. He even caught a break when his lone interception was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty.
Winston also ran for three first downs. All in all, it was an impressive debut.
Take Four: Adebo Interception
The only point in the game where it felt like Green Bay had any momentum was the opening drive in the third quarter. With the score 17-3, they were moving deep into Saints territory. A score there could have made it a one possession game and could have injected some life into the team.
It didn’t happen. Rodgers was rushed, he tried to step up and hit a crosser. The throw was late and behind the target. Rookie Paulson Adebo was there to pick off the pass and return it 33 yards.
It was poetic justice for Adebo, whom Rodgers had been targeting a lot in the game. The rookie was clearly up to the challenge. After his interception, the game was effectively over. The Packers never threatened again.
Take Five: Other Observations
- Dennis Allen may be the most underrated defensive coordinator in the league. His defenses are consistently prepared to play. Sunday may have been his best effort yet. To keep that quarterback and that explosive offense out of the end zone was stunning.
- The bomb to Harris is going to get all the attention. But Winston’s throw to Hogan, where he climbed the pocket, may have been more impressive.
- The Saints offensive line dominated despite losing Erik McCoy very early in the contest. Cesar Ruiz slid over to center, and undrafted Calvin Throckmorton stepped in at right guard. Both guys played very well and the overall group didn’t miss a beat.
- Two huge fourth down connections for the Saints on their second scoring drive. Payton said the 4th & 7 call was something he picked up watching Rams film on a tight end screen. On the fourth and goal, Winston put it up high for Johnson who went up and grabbed it.
- Marcus Williams covered a ton of ground on his interception. He was playing the opposite hash, but got over the top and ran down Rodgers’ overthrow. He also did a nice job on the return.
- The Saints made sure to give a game ball to the organizational operations crew for dealing with a mountain of logistics to get them in the best position to be ready to play Sunday.
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