The New Orleans Saints opened the NFL regular season with an impressive 14-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in front of 70,051 fans at the Superdome.
The victory marks the first time the Saints have won three straight regular season openers. The Saints are 4-1 in season openers under head coach Sean Payton.
"Big win - really good win for our team," said Saints head coach Sean Payton. "We played a very good team tonight and I was proud of the way we came through."
QB Drew Breeshighlighted the Saints performance as he completed 27 of 36 attempts for 237 yards and a touchdown. RB Pierre Thomashas a team-best 71 yards on 19 carries. The 14 points scored are the fewest by the Saints in a winning effort since Payton became head coach in 2006, and the fewest in a win since defeating Dallas 13-7 on Dec. 28, 2003 in the Superdome.
"We aren't use to 14-9 victories, but we are use to winning. We like the 'W'," said Brees.
Brees connected with nine different Saints led by WR Marques Colston'sfive receptions for 62 yards. RB Reggie Bushchipped in with five catches for 33 yards.
Defensively, LBs Jo-Lonn Dunbarand Scott Shanleeach had a team-best seven tackles.
The Saints came firing out the gates as Brees opened the Saints first drive with a 28-yard completion to Colston, followed by a 12-yard bullet to Lance Moore. Three plays later, Brees lofted a bomb to Devery Hendersonfor a 29-yard touchdown strike in the right corner of the endzone at the 12:56 mark in the first quarter.
Late in the first quarter, Brees fumbled the snap but scooped it up and rolled to the right to avoid pressure and fired a pass to Robert Meachemalong the right sideline. Brees continued his balanced attach by connecting with Bush* *two plays later for a 19-yard gain. Bush's catch marked Brees' fourth completion of 19-yards or more in the first quarter.
Of the Saints 16 plays in the first stanza, 15 were passes. New Orleans' one run was an eight-yard gain by Bush. The Saints offense stalled in the second quarter.
The Vikings got on the scoreboard with a 41-yard field goal by K Ryan Longwellat the 5:28 mark in the second quarter.
With 2:34 remaining in the first half and the Vikings on their own 18-yard line, the Saints blitzed and S Roman Harpernailed QB Brett Favre who got the pass off but was intercepted by LB Jonathan Vilmato give the ball at the Vikings 29-yard line.
Vilma's pick was the 11th of his career, and his fifth as a Saint. Vilma has had at least one interception in each of his seven seasons in the NFL.
The Saints were not able to capitalize on Vima's interception as K Garrett Hartleymissed a 46-yard field goal attempt with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
Favre connected with TE Visanthe Shiancoeon a 20-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds left in the first half.*NTRemi Ayodele blocked the Vikings extra point attempt and Minnesota *took a 9-7 lead at halftime.
Ayodele's blocked PAT was the first by a Saint since former black and gold DT Grady Jacksonhad a blocked PAT at Cincinnati, Dec. 22, 2002. Additionally, it was the first block of any kind by a Saint in the Superdome since former S Steve Gleason'smemorable blocked punt in the return. The Saints regained the lead with 6:13 left in the third quarter when Thomas ran up the middle for a one-yard touchdown. The Saints held on to their 14-9 lead to close out the game. The Saints controlled the ball for 21:07 of the second half.