There were individual performances galore to unpack from the New Orleans Saints' 34-23 season-opening victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Some were gritty, some carried a bit more glitter, but they all contributed to the Saints getting off on the right foot, against a division rival. Here are a few:
OFFENSE: Alvin Kamara’s combined yardage total (16 rushing on 12 carries, 51 receiving on five catches) didn't scream "Kamara" the way many of his other game totals have. But, first, every yard gained by A.K. against Tampa Bay on Sunday was a well-earned three feet, because it was clear that the Buccaneers were determined to not be dominated by Kamara. And, second, he still got to them just enough anyway, via a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. Kamara's value to the Saints' offense isn't overstated; he's a tougher runner than given credit for, and remains an excellent receiver. He almost added a second rushing touchdown, but stepped out of bounds before crossing the goal line. By then, he had done enough to help New Orleans secure its victory.
DEFENSE: All Jackrabbit Jenkins has done since joining the Saints last December, with two regular-season games remaining, is show that he still is a top-level cover cornerback. Jenkins' 36-yard interception return for a touchdown Sunday – the eighth defensive touchdown he has scored in his NFL career, putting him in a tie for eighth-most in league history – was an ode to ability and study. He said he expected the out route that Tampa Bay ran, cut underneath the intended receiver and after the interception, he could have jogged into the end zone backward. When he and cornerback Marshon Lattimore play as they did Sunday, they're a formidable duo. Lattimore very easily could have been the guy here, after helping limit Mike Evans to one catch and two receiving yards. But when you put points on the scoreboard, as Jackrabbit did, and add nine tackles on top of it, that's always special.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Speaking of points on the scoreboard, defensive lineman Margus Hunt possibly took three of them off for Tampa Bay when he blocked a 54-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. Hunt was added to the gameday roster off the practice squad Sunday, and the 6-foot-7 veteran immediately paid dividends. The Saints turned around, drove 44 yards and kicked a field goal to take a 17-7 lead. For Hunt, it was the fifth blocked kick in his NFL career.