The New Orleans Saints host the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season in Jacksonville, FL.
Jacksonville, Fla. – Impressive.
Many words are appropriate to describe what the New Orleans Saints did in their 38-3, season-opening victory over Green Bay at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday. But "impressive" is as good and fitting as any, after the Saints dismantled the Packers in a way that was stunningly thorough.
New Orleans was at its complementary peak, and the result was a win that displayed much of what the Saints can be in any given game.
OFFENSE: The most impressive part about the 38 points scored? New Orleans was perfect on four trips inside the red zone, and took full advantage of all the assistance it was provided by the defense. The Saints totaled just 322 yards, but they were 5 of 10 on third-down conversions, converted both fourth-down attempts and quarterback Jameis Winston, in his first NFL start since the final game of the 2019 season with Tampa Bay, threw five touchdown passes on 14 completions. Give immeasurable credit to the offensive line, which simply dominated Green Bay. The Saints ran for 171 yards on 39 carries and ran up a time of possession advantage – 34:36 to 25:24 – that hints at just how worn down Green Bay must've been defensively by game's end. New Orleans powered through the Packer defense, and it was a bare-knuckled delight for the offensive line.
DEFENSE: Speaking of powering through, the Saints' defense broke Green Bay's offense. There might be prettier ways to say it, but that's the essence of it when you limit a team – with 2020 Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers at quarterback – to 229 yards and one conversion in 10 third-down attempts. The Packers were 0 for 2 in the red zone, with New Orleans forcing turnovers both times. Overall, the Saints had three takeaways, two sacks, seven quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and four passes defensed. Green Bay ran for 43 yards on 15 carries, Rodgers was battered like a piñata and New Orleans kept one of the league's best offenses out of the end zone. The Saints had an answer for everything the Packers presented; they were physical and coverage on the back end was spectacular. The Saints weren't perfect on defense, but the errors will fall in the nitpick category.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Saints didn't need an explosive game on special teams because of the brute efficiency they had on offense and defense. But a couple of things were worth noting. First, punter Blake Gillikin had a 45-yard punt that was downed at the Green Bay 5 by receiver Ty Montgomery, perfect execution of what was needed. Second, kicker Aldrick Rosas drilled a 44-yard field goal to open the scoring, a boot that should help bolster his confidence. The Saints were solid, as usual, in the kick cover game even though the units have new faces replacing some productive veterans.