East Rutherford, N.J. – The quality piece of work that was the New Orleans Saints' 28-13 victory over the New York Jets in their preseason game Saturday night was the Saints' best all-around play of their three preseason games.
That shouldn't be a surprise, because that's the way it's supposed to be. The team hopes to improve each week and the starters were scheduled to play their longest stretch of any preseason game. And that's the way it was for the Saints, who left MetLife Stadium feeling good about their efforts. Here are a few of the standouts:
OFFENSE: The easy choice here would be quarterback Drew Brees, who made his first (and likely last) appearance of the preseason on the Saints' opening drive, and was so efficient that that's all the snaps he received. On the eight-play drive, Brees completed four of six passes for 68 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown to Michael Thomas. Or, perhaps, Thomas, who made two acrobatic catches (the 20-yarder between a couple of defenders may have been more impressive than the touchdown catch). But since those two likely will find their names here a few times during the regular season, and if you went to the microwave you might have missed their time on the field, we'll go with tight end Dan Arnold, who had game highs in catches (five) and receiving yards (83). Arnold took some big hits along the way, but showed the ability to get open and to make tough catches, too. Most importantly, he held on to the ball after the catch, and that'll leave a good taste in the coaches' mouths.
DEFENSE: Truth is, the first-team defense was outstanding. It pitched a shutout, forced a turnover and a couple of punts and shackled the Jets. But the turnover – cornerback Marshon Lattimore's strip and recovery – was pretty spectacular. Lattimore tracked running back Ty Montgomery on New York's first offensive play, caught him from the left side and wrestled the ball away while Montgomery was falling. It couldn't have been coached or executed any better than that, and it allowed the Saints to add a field goal to their opening-drive touchdown. Lattimore has a knack for finding the football, and it provided New Orleans' signature defensive play.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Deonte Harris. I really don't need to write anything else if you watched the game or the highlights, but here goes: After threatening to break a long return in the first two preseason games, he sprung loose and registered a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown (check out how he made the first guy whiff). It was the perfect way to atone for a fumble on a kickoff return (he recovered the fumble) and a good example of the explosiveness that he provides as a returner. Overall, he had four punt returns for 92 yards, and three kickoff returns for 61 yards. The undrafted rookie has been exactly what the Saints have been looking for in a returner the last couple of seasons.
Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints at New York Jets 2019 NFL Preseason Week 3 game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey