The New Orleans Saints moved to 2-0 on the preseason as the first-team offense and defense turned in solid performances in defeating the Oakland Raiders 28-20 Friday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was his normal efficient self, completing 14 of 18 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown pass to rookie receiver Kenny Stills. Mark Ingram carried the ball nine times for 30 yards and a 2-yard touchdown as Garrett Hartley (three field goals) and the defense (one safety) provided the rest of the scoring.
Stills finished the game with four receptions for 64 yards and second-year receiver Nick Toon caught an early 56-yard bomb from Brees to set up Ingram's score.
"We had great tempo throughout that whole first half," Brees said. "...I wish we could have punched a few more of those drives in the end zone. It's nice when you don't punt in the first half."
The Saints' first-team defense held the Raiders and starting quarterback Matt Flynn largely in check and was able to provide consistent pressure even without its two starting inside linebackers, Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma, and outside linebackers Junior Galette and Martez Wilson. The team registered seven sacks.
Raiders Coach Dennis Allen said Flynn was under heavy pressure much of the first half.
"The first drive we had two (possible) touchdowns (where) guys got open and we weren't able to find them," Allen said. "After that they brought a lot of pressure and they did some different stuff than what we had seen in the first preseason game. They were a little bit more multiple in what they did and it gave us some problems."
Flynn said communication was an issue with the protection. !(http://www.neworleanssaints.com/media-center/photo-gallery/New-Orleans-Saints-vs-Oakland-Raiders-Fans/67852b3f-a12e-4d10-98d4-41b90ef89b82 "New Orleans Saints")
"We just can't let it happen," he said. "Like I said, that's why we play these games to learn from the mistakes we made."
The Saints made plenty of mistakes themselves. They turned the ball over three times in the third quarter leading directly to 10 Oakland points, the touchdown coming on a 1-yard recovery of a Seneca Wallace fumble.
New Orleans also was penalized nine times for 85 yards. The Saints have broken the official part of training camp and will not play again in the Superdome until the Sept. 8 season opener against division rival Atlanta. The Saints will travel to Houston on Aug. 25 in the third preseason game where traditionally the starters see their most extensive playing time of preseason.
The game marked the return of former Saints cornerback Tracy Porter, who made the pivotal interceptions in the Saints' NFC championship game and Super Bowl victories. Porter was forced to leave the game with a groin injury.
"It was really weird," he said. "This is a place where I spent most of my career. I played here for four years and then to come back here it was weird. But it was good to come back, playing in front of this great crowd and my family."