Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL Preseason.
1. Bucking the Trend: As joint practices against other teams have escalated in the NFL the last couple of seasons (the New Orleans Saints will do this twice the next couple of weeks against the Chargers and the Texans), the overall trend in the NFL is to not play many starters in preseason games. On Sunday in the Caesars Superdome, it appeared that Saints Coach Dennis Allen and Chiefs Coach Andy Reid did not get the memo. Both teams' listed starters were dressed and ready for action in pregame warmups and got snaps during the game. Injured players not dressed for Saints on Sunday were linebacker Demario Davis (calf); wide receivers Rashid Shaheed (groin), Tre'Quan Smith (groin); running back Kirk Merritt (hamstring); offensive lineman Andrus Peat (quad), Landon Young (knee); tight ends Lucas Krull (tailbone), Jesse James (groin). Mike Thomas, Cam Jordan, Tyrann Mathieu, Derek Carr and Wil Lutz were the team captains. Both starting quarterbacks, Carr for the Saints and Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs, played the first offensive series, with Carr tossing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood.
2, What A Debut! It could not have gone any better for the Saints in their first series offensively and defensively. Carr was razor sharp, going six of eight for 70 yards and the aforementioned touchdown pass in the back right of the Dave Dixon Street end zone to Kirkwood, who was not Carr's first option. Carr would spread the wealth, with catches by four receivers. Juwan Johnson (two) Alvin Kamara (two), Michael Thomas, and Kirkwood. On their 48-yard line and setting up a fourth-and-1, the Chiefs ran a direct snap to tight end Blake Bell, but that would go nowhere thanks to linebackers Pete Werner and Zack Baun who immediately penetrated and stopped Bell, forcing a turnover on downs. The Saints took advantage of the good field position and scored on the next offensive possession on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to rookie receiver A.T. Perry, who lunged the ball over the goal line after a spin move got him free.
3. Play(s) of the Day: After the fourth down stop by the defense, the offense had good field position and quickly capitalized. Just four plays later the Saints would have a third-and-five from the Kansas City 29-yard line. Winston dropped back and soared one toward the end zone, the pass was perfectly placed over the outstretched arms of defender Trent McDuffie and into the waiting arms of rookie Perry. The sixth round draft pick from Wake Forest spun at the 3-yard line and stretched the ball toward the goal line and crossed the plane of the goal as the ball hit the ground and rolled away. Perry had done enough though and the touchdown was awarded. Perry had a banner day with a team high six catches and 70 yards including that TD catch. Defensively, the big play came at end of the game as the Chiefs were trying to protect at 24-23 lead. Inexplicably, the Chiefs tried to throw for it with a screen in the right flat. Quarterback Chris Oladokun looked for running back La'Michael Perrine. Fortunately, Saints defensive lineman (signed after training camp had begun) Kyle Phillips intercepted the pass easily and returned it to the Kansas City 22-yard line. After that, it was simply running out the clock and setting up rookie kicker Blake Grupe's 31-yard walkoff, game-winning kick. It was the perfect ending to a roller coaster preseason game and sent the fans in attendance home happy.