The New Orleans Saints return to New Orleans for their 2015 regular season home opener when they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, Sept. 20.
New Orleans opened the season with a 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Overall, the Saints are 7-1 in home openers under Coach Sean Payton, with the team holding a 21-27 overall mark when they open the home portion of their schedule. This is the second time that the Saints will host Tampa Bay for a home opener. The other meeting was a 24-20 fourth quarter come-from-behind win on Sept. 7, 2008.
New Orleans owns a 29-17 advantage over Tampa Bay in a series that dates to 1977, with the Saints capturing the last seven meetings, which is the franchise's longest all-time winning streak against an opponent. The Saints own a 16-9 record over the Buccaneers in games played in the Crescent City.
On Sunday in Arizona, the Saints' lineup featured 20 players making their playing debuts in Black and Gold. Out of that 20, 13 of those players were making their NFL playing debuts, including eight rookies, on a roster featuring a solid mix between youth and experience.
After falling behind 14-3 to the Cardinals early in the second quarter, New Orleans rallied near the end of the first half, when QB Drew Brees connected with WR Brandon Coleman on a 12-yard touchdown. The scoring grab, the first reception of Coleman's career, made him the 50th player to catch a touchdown from Brees in the regular season.
In the third and fourth quarters, the Saints got within one twice on field goals by K Zach Hocker, who made all four attempts in his NFL debut. But struggles in the red zone, where they scored only one touchdown on four trips, plagued New Orleans, especially in the fourth quarter when they were unable to take advantage of a 59-yard gain on a catch by RB Mark Ingram and were forced to settle for three points. The Cardinals broke out to a 31-19 lead on a late 55-yard scoring connection between QBCarson Palmer and RB David Johnson.
The Buccaneers dropped a 42-14 decision to the Tennessee Titans in their opener at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The Saints will face QB Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Florida State University, for the first time on Sunday. Following Palmer (2002), Winston is the second in a group of six starting quarterbacks who were Heisman Trophy Winners that the Saints have faced or are scheduled to face in 2015, also including Carolina's Cam Newton (2010) on September 27 in Charlotte and December 6 in New Orleans, Philadelphia's Sam Bradford (2008), and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota (2014), the Buccaneers' and Winston's opponent in Week One.
This Week In The NFC South: The Atlanta Falcons (1-0) will play at the New York Giants (0-1) on Sunday at noon and the Carolina Panthers (1-0) host the Houston Texans (1-1) with a noon CT kickoff as well.