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New Orleans Saints' 'new' recipe produces familiar result against New England

Saints defense forced three turnovers, scored touchdown in 28-13 victory

The New Orleans Saints head East to take on the New England Patriots in Week 3 on September 26, 2021.

Foxborough, Mass. – The New Orleans Saints aren't so much concerned with the aesthetics as they are with the scoreboard.

On it Sunday, it said the Saints posted a 28-13 victory over New England at Gillette Stadium. And with that, the team raised its record to 2-1 and took its postgame flight back to New Orleans, the first time the Saints have returned home since evacuating ahead of Hurricane Ida on Aug. 28.

While the modern Saints fan may not be accustomed to seeing the team win in ways that are so defensively minded and dominated, they are accustomed to the Saints winning. And for the second time in its first three games, that's exactly what New Orleans did.

OFFENSE: Any day with no turnovers is a good day. Perhaps, not a spectacular one, as evidenced by New Orleans' 252 yards of offense and 110 net passing yards. But three touchdowns in four trips to the red zone, and touchdowns on both goal-to-go situations, is the kind of efficiency needed until the offense finds its flow. Jameis Winston was efficient enough (13 of 21 for 128 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions). And the one glaring mistake he made turned into a 7-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway (Winston said he was attempting to throw the pass away, Callaway went up and snared it in the back of the end zone). Too, credit the Saints with this: When New England pulled to within 21-13, and New Orleans really needed to respond with a drive to curtail the momentum, it constructed a 13-play, 75-yard, bare-knuckled punch that lasted 6:45 when it absolutely had to have it. Alvin Kamara had a career-high 24 carries (for 89 yards) and overall, the Saints totaled 142 rushing yards on 38 carries. They didn't turn it over, the offense committed just one penalty and if it can do that, the opportunities to win will be there.

DEFENSE: This unit balled. Sure, New England piled on some second-half yards and converted twice on three fourth-down attempts. But the Saints' defense scored as many touchdowns (one) as New England's offense, it intercepted rookie quarterback Mac Jones three times, sacked him twice, hit him 11 times and defended eight passes. It's hard to imagine it could've accomplished much more while being on the field for 70 plays. Only one defensive penalty was assessed against New Orleans and when you score as many touchdowns - safety Malcolm Jenkins' 34-yard interception return for a score on the first play of the third quarter - as the opposing offense, and force a field goal attempt in the red zone, it's going to be difficult to be beaten that day. The Saints swarmed Jones and made New England one-dimensional, allowing just 49 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Lots of good stuff attributable to the defense in this one.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The missed field goals weren't good; they never are. Booming one through the uprights from 52 yards isn't exactly automatic, so Aldrick Rosas missing that one was understandable. But the missed 36-yard attempt is one that will garner concern. That distance is more manageable. Otherwise, the special teams was outstanding. Deonte Harris' first punt return was for 25 yards and after that, the Patriots wouldn't punt to him again; two went out of bounds and two went for touchbacks. Same with kickoff returns; he got one attempt, but one went out of bounds and two more for touchbacks. The highlight of the day was Andrew Dowell's blocked punt. The Saints didn't cash it in for a score, but the continued excellence of the punt rush teams is something to note and to keep an eye one.

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