The New Orleans Saints were victorious in Sean Payton's return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday night as they defeated the visiting Kansas City Chiefs 17-13 behind two 2-yard scoring passes from Luke McCown to Preston Parker.
The Saints' first-team offense only netted a 24-yard Garrett Hartley field goal and the first-team defense gave up a long Kansas City scoring drive but New Orleans' opening preseason game has to be considered a success. Rob Ryan's new 3-4 defense gave up just 215 yards and only one touchdown, a 1-yard dive by starting tailback Jamaal Charles. The defense got consistent pressure on all three Kansas City quarterbacks - Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and Ricky Stanzi - and had four sacks. Rookie defensive tackle John Jenkins had one of the sacks with cornerback Jabari Greer, defensive lineman Glenn Foster and outside linebacker Baraka Atkins getting the others.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was an efficient 7 of 10 passing for 65 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. McCown played the majority of the game and was 18 of 28 for 216 yards, one interception and the two third-quarter TD passes to Parker. Ryan Griffin finished the game and Seneca Wallace is expected to see a great deal of playing time next Friday when the Oakland Raiders come to the Superdome for the second game of preseason.
While the Saints got the victory Payton wasn't thrilled with the performance.
"I didn't want to come in and be so negative," Payton said, "but there are a lot of things that I think we need to clean up. In the last game i coached it was a playoff game so you have this expectation and yet it's preseason but we have 10 guys on the field and can't get the right personnel out there. There were a ton of little things that we have to be better at. We have to be better starting with the coaches, myself and everyone else. I just thought it was sloppy."
One player who wasn't sloppy was Parker, a third-year receiver from North Alabama.
"Preston Parker played exceptionally well for the opportunities he was given," Payton said.
While Payton didn't single out any of the rookies Jenkins had one sack and first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro flashed several times and showed the ability to deliver a blow on special teams and defense. He led the team with six tackles. Payton was pleased with the pressure the defense was able to apply.
"Some guys really stepped up," he said. "I thought we had good energy to the ball; we got our hands on it. I thought that was certainly evidentt for everyone watching. That was good news."
Second-year receiver Nick Toon, seeing his first game action in about a year, had four catches for 66 yards with his long being a 22-yarder. Receiver Andy Tanner also made several nice catches, finishing with three receptions for 59 yards.
A number of starters were held out of the game including running back Pierre Thomas, outside linebacker Junior Galette and inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Receiver Saalim Hakim was shook up after taking a hard hit in the second half but was able to walk off the field on his own.
The Saints player will have Saturday off and return to training camp Sunday with a closed practice. Monday's practice is scheduled to be open to the public at 8:50 a.m.
"When you watch the tape, my experience is it is never quite as bad as you think or as good as you think as well," Payton said. "There are a lot of snaps for us to grade and we'll go from there."