The New Orleans Saints struggled to find a consistent rhythm offensively and defensively through the first three weeks of the 2020 season, but that changed midway through the first half when the Saints erased a 14-point deficit to beat the Detroit Lions 35-29 in Week 4.
"You have to keep playing, that whole quarter. It was a quick turnaround," defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson said Monday. "We had to make adjustments on defense, but other than that, we've been down before. We have to keep fighting like we always do. Yesterday showed a lot. We could have easily given up, but the whole team came together, offensively they did things running the ball, Drew (Brees) did things, receivers stepped up big, the defense. We're still coming together to try to get everything right and win every game possible."
After falling behind 14-0 within the first five minutes, the Saints answered the bell by scoring 35 unanswered points due in large part to the dynamic rushing attack of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Murray finished with 64 yards on 14 carries and scored two rushing touchdowns.
"I really felt the vision was there and I felt we were real patient knowing how their front plays and their backers play," Murray said Monday on what contributed to the rushing success. "They're not a real downhill, penetration defense, so we knew we just had to be a little more patient with the holes and to hit it. That helped a lot. We knew that going into it and I think we stuck with that."
After throwing an interception on his first pass attempt of the game, quarterback Drew Brees turned it loose, completing 19-of-25 passes for 246 yards and two scores, both to Tre'Quan Smith. Brees' ability to push the ball downfield forced Detroit to pick its poison.
"It opens things up a lot," Murray said. "Obviously, when we throw the ball down the field, we are able to keep defenses on their toes. If we run the ball efficiently, the sky's the limit for what we can do."
The Saints secondary was short-handed Sunday, forcing cornerback Patrick Robinson to start his first game since 2018. It was Robinson who halted the Lions' momentum with a crucial interception in the end zone with the score tied at 14.
"Definitely," said Gardner-Johnson on how the team was able to feed off of Robinson's takeaway. "We had a pick six, a real game-changing pick six, the first week of the season with Jack (Janoris 'Jackrabbit' Jenkins). Just seeing him (Robinson) get a pick and see some action. Maybe we have to depend on certain people. Our backups are as good as our starters. Our coach always tells us prepare as if you're a starter. It doesn't matter if you're a backup or starter. You have to play like a starter 24-7 and go out and dominate. That's all it is, when you have guys keeping sharpening the axe, going out and competing and doing their job with what they can control and they can do. The sky's the limit for them."
Although the Saints were able to string together 35 unanswered points, it's not a perfect game when you fall behind 14 points in the early going.
"There are things we can clean up from yesterday," Murray said. "There's still learning, growing, correcting those mistakes and then building off of the success we had. That's how you put some runs together and that's what we want to do. We go in there to win every time. Hopefully we just stack some wins as we head into this next quarter of the season or at least end up 3-2 before this bye week. The next one is important. That's what we want to do. Build off the win, the things we did well and make corrections."