We learned early on Sunday, Sept. 26 what kind of game it would be for the New Orleans Saints defense.
That unit set the tone for New Orleans in its 28-13 victory over New England at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and it carried that tone throughout as it limited New England to 300 yards, 7 of 19 on third down, intercepted three passes, defended eight passes, hit Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 11 times and sacked Jones twice.
So if there was a pivotal point for the Saints – especially, for its dominant defense – it very likely was provided midway through the first quarter. And with 7:35 left, and New England lined up for its fourth offensive play while trailing 7-0, defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson supplied the juice.
Gardner-Johnson, back after missing the second game of the season due to an injury, lined up on the left side with New England facing first-and-10 from its 25-yard line. On the snap, he came on the rush and at the point of attack, was met by running back Damien Harris.
He barreled through the would-be impediment, and wrapped up Jones for a 5-yard loss. From there, the defense forced its second consecutive three-and-out and though New Orleans didn't take advantage on the ensuing possession – a missed 52-yard field-goal attempt kept the advantage at 7-0 – the sack signaled the beginning of the harassment of Jones, who rarely was allowed to find a comfort zone or rhythm.
CJGJ finished with five tackles, two tackles for loss, a pass defensed, a quarterback hit and his sack in one of his most complete games as a Saint.
The New Orleans Saints head East to take on the New England Patriots in Week 3 on September 26, 2021.