The Saints improved to 3-1 after a 23-10 victory over the Jaguars Sunday afternoon at EverBank Stadium.
"We we're going to have to play our best football," said Head Coach Sean Payton. "We scored for the first time on our opening drive. We need to clean some things up but it was a good win."
TE Jimmy Graham highlighted the Saints victory with career bests of 10 catches and 132 yards, including a one-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
QB Drew Brees finished the day completing 31 of 44 passes for 351 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.
RB Darren Sproles had another outstanding all-around performance with 188 all-purpose yards, including a season-best 75 rushing yards on seven carries (10. 7 avg.)
WR Robert Meachem had a strong performance with four catches for 59 yards.
Rookie RB Mark Ingram had a career-best 55 rushing yards on 17 carries.
New Orleans has outgained Jacksonville 177-104 on the ground led by the three-headed trio of Sproles, Ingram and Pierre Thomas.
Harper led the team in tackles with eight (five solo) and a sack. LB Jonathan Vilma notched five tackles (four solo) after sitting out last week with a knee injury.
DE Will Smith sacked rookie Blaine Gabbert twice for his first two quarterback takedowns of the season. Smith has 57 career sacks, to rank fourth in the Saints record book for career sacks behind former Saint Pat Swilling (76.5).
The opening kickoff by P Thomas Morstead was fielded by Deji Karim and returned to the Jaguars 22-yard line. S Isa Abdul-Quddus was called for pass interference on the first play.
Gabbert then completed an 18-yard throw to TE Marcedes Lewis and then scrambled for a 12-yard gain to move into Saints territory. Gabbert had to toss his next first down throw away as he had a fellow rookie DE Cameron Jordan closing in on him. A second down throw was bobbled by RB Maurice Jones-Drew and dropped. On third and ten, Gabbert threw a screen to Jaguars WR Mike Thomas, who was stopped following a gain of only four yards by CB Jabari Greer. Going for it on fourth at the 38, Gabbert's throw intended for WR Jason Hill was broken up by rookie CB Johnny Patrick.
With the ball for the first time, Brees opened to an empty backfield and immediately found WR Lance Moore for a five-yard gain. Brees then rolled out on second down and found Graham for a five-yard gain and the first down. With the fresh set of downs, Brees handed off to Thomas who gained three to the Jacksonville 49-yard line. On second down, the signal-caller found Graham for a nine-yard gain and a first down. Brees then handed off to Sproles down the middle for a 19-yard gain. Mark Ingram took the next carry and moved into the red zone for a five-yard gain to the 16. New Orleans moved the chains again when Brees threw to Moore to the middle of the field for a six-yard gain. At first-and-goal at the ten, Sproles caught a pass and moved the ball to the Jacksonville one. In his first career NFL carry, FB Jed Collins got into the end zone for the touchdown.
Karim took the kickoff out of the end zone and had a 12-yard return to the nine, where he was stopped by S Jonathon Amaya. Jones-Drew carried on the first play and fumbled and recovered but lost two yards in the process as LB Scott Shanle was credited with the stop. On second down, Gabbert threw to FB Derrick Bolen for a two-yard gain before he was dropped by S Roman Harper. On third down, Gabbert found Thomas for a short intermediate throw, which was turned into a 47-yard gain. On first down in Saints territory Karim gained four yards. Gabbert next handed off to Karim, who gained one to the 39 before he was stopped by DE Turk McBride. Karim had bobbled the ball after an initial hit by Harper and Payton called a challenge that the runner was not down when he dropped it.
The ruling on the field stood. On third-and-five Gabbert took the snap and ran down the Jaguars sideline, but Thomas was called for a ten-yard holding penalty. Following an incomplete throw that fell short of Amaya being able to pick it off, a punt by Matt Turk fell out of bounds at the Jacksonville four-yard line.
Brees threw to Ingram out of the end zone on the drive's first play and it gained one yard before he was stopped by Jacksonville CB Rashean Mathis. On second down, the Saints were called for a false start penalty, moving them back to the three. With the ensuing play, Brees and Graham were unable to connect. Facing third-and-long, Brees found Sproles who converted the throw to a 14-yard gain and the first down. Brees then rolled out, eluded a defender and completed a throw to Graham for a three-yard gain. On second down, he handed off to Ingram who gained seven yards and the first down before being stopped by Jaguars LB Clint Session. On the next first down, Brees handed off to Ingram who gained one before being dropped by Jacksonville DL Terrence Knighton. On second-and-nine, Brees tossed a throw to Sproles near the Saints sideline for a first down at the New Orleans 39 on the final play of the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Brees used a play action fake to complete a 25-yard throw to Meachem. On the next first down play, Ingram gained eight yards. Sproles then took a handoff and burst 15 yards into the red zone. Brees then completed a screen to the runner, who was just short of the end zone. On first and goal from the one, Graham utilized the fake and then found Graham for a one-yard throw to extend New Orleans' lead to 14-0.
With the Jaguars starting at the 20, Gabbert completed an eight-yard pass to Thomas and then handed off to Jones-Drew who gained two and the first down. However on the next play, the heralded runner was dropped for no gain by Jordan. On second down, Gabbert completed a pass to Hill for a gain of 18-yards up the middle of the field before being stopped by Greer. On the next play, Gabbert overthrew Hill deep. On second down, the rookie signal-caller fell victim to a blitz by Harper and a sack for a ten-yard loss. Gabbert then completed a throw to Jaguars WR Jarrett Dillard on a play where LB Scott Shanle was called for a facemask penalty, which would put them at the Saints 30. Gabbert then tossed to Karim for a three-yard gain before he was stopped by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar followed by an incomplete pass. On third-and-seven, a throw to Lewis who made a nice grab gained 13 and put Jacksonville in the red zone for only the second time all season. On the next play, a Gabbert pass intended for Hill was deflected by CB Patrick Robinson. On second-and-ten, Gabbert connected with Jaguars TE Zach Miller for a 14-yard touchdown pass to bring the Jaguars to within seven.
Sproles would field the kickoff out of the end zone to the New Orleans 21. Brees first got to work on a screen pass to Thomas that with some nice blocking by G Jahri Evans resulted in a 19-yard gain. Brees' next throw was broken up by Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny. On a second down play action fake, Brees completed a throw to Thomas who was stopped for no gain by Session. On third-and-ten, Brees found Sproles on a pass where he literally hit the first down marker. On the next play, Sproles carried for no gain, where he was stopped by Knighton.
Brees then handed off to Thomas who went right behind some nifty blocking for a 15-yard gain to the Jacksonville 35. Brees then rolled out and took a shot in the end zone for Meachem that was incomplete. On second down, a throw intended for Sproles was thrown low and incomplete. A third down pass intended for Graham was broken up by Jaguars DB Dwight Lowery. New Orleans K John Kasay's 53-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
Following the missed kick, Jacksonville would take over at their 42, Gabbert completed a throw to Thomas for a five-yard gain before he was tackled by Greer and Shanle. On second down, Gabbert dropped back and was sacked by DE Will Smith for an eight-yard loss. The Saints would call a timeout prior to third down. Gabbert completed a pass to Hill that got the eight and eight more to put the Jaguars in Saints territory at the 44. A deep throw intended for Miller was deflected by Greer. Gabbert then completed a screen to Jones-Drew who gained three yards before he was pushed out of bounds by Harper. On third-and-seven, a throw for Karim was just out of his clutches forcing the punting unit out. With the punt unit out, a Turk kick went out of bounds at the New Orleans 12 for a 28 yards.
Brees completed passes of 21 and 2 yards to Moore before he was picked off by Jaguars LB Darryl Smith, giving the Jaguars starting position at the Saints 13. After two straight incomplete passes, a third down pass was deflected at the line by DT Sedrick Ellis, which forced Jaguars K Josh Scobee out who drilled a 31-yard field goal with 34 seconds left in the half.
New Orleans started at their 15, where Brees first completed a six-yard throw to Graham who raced out of bounds. Brees then tried an attempt up the field intended for WR Marques Colston that was incomplete. With 18 seconds left, the signal-caller completed a pass to Meachem for a 17-yard gain. With a fresh set of downs but only 12 seconds, Brees ran six yards out of bounds on the quarterback scramble. On what could have been the final play of the half, the Jacksonville defense was called for a 12 men on the field penalty, advancing the Saints to their 49-yard line. New Orleans took their final timeout of the half to ponder a play call. An outlet pass for Thomas, resulted in a 17-yard gain on the final play of the half.
Jacksonville's opening kickoff of the second half sailed in the end zone for a touchback. Brees immediately got to work, handing off to Thomas for a gain of three yards. On second down, the signal-caller connected with Moore for a gain of 16. Ingram then took a handoff up the middle for a gain of six yards before being stopped for no gain on a subsequent handoff. Sproles took the third down handoff for a gain of 34 yards before going out of bounds at the Jacksonville 21. Ingram took the next handoff and advanced into the red zone for a five-yard gain. The rookie runner than ran forward for two more. At third-and-three though, Brees was dropped by Jaguars DE Austen Laine for a loss of six, before Kasay drilled a 38-yard field goal.
Following a touchback by Morstead on the kickoff, Jones-Drew ripped off a 41-yard run before being stopped by S Malcolm Jenkins. Gabbert then handed off to Karim, but the play was snuffed out for a two-yard loss by CB Patrick Robinson. On second-and-12, a throw intended for Thomas just missed his clutches. The second-year cornerback then picked off Gabbert for his first career interception, giving the Saints possession back at their 32-yard line.
Brees started the next drive by completing a pass to Graham for a gain of 13, setting up first and ten at the 45. Thomas then ran left for a gain of seven yards. Brees then converted the first down with an eight-yard throw to Graham. Meachem then caught an intermediate throw near the Saints sideline for an eight-yard gain. On second down, Brees found Graham but he was stopped for a loss of one by Lowery. On third-and-three, Brees and WR Marques Colston in his return following a shoulder injury, connected on an eight-yard completion, putting the Saints at the Jax 25. A handoff to Sproles for a gain of five yards then put the Saints at the Jacksonville 20. On second down though, the runner was stopped for a loss of one by Jacksonville DE Jeremy Mincey. With 12 players on the field, the Jaguars were forced to call a timeout. The third down pass from Brees intended for Graham was incomplete and Kasay hit a 39-yard field goal to put the Saints up by ten.
The Jaguars would start at their 27, where on their first play of the drive, Gabbert overthrew Hill. Jones-Drew gained six yards on a run but the duo then failed to connect on a pass attempt, sending the Jaguars punt unit out. Trying to avoid kicking to Sproles, Turk's punt went out of bounds at the Saints 38-yard line.
Ingram took the first carry, and gained zero yards after being brought down by Mincey. On second down, Brees completed a throw to the runner at the middle of the field for a two-yard gain. On third down, Brees found Thomas up the middle, but despite pushing forward, gained only seven yards. Payton and the Saints decided to go for it on fourth-and-one and handed off to Ingram who, it was determined following a measurement, got the tough yard for the first down. On the final play of the quarter, Ingram gained four yards. Brees then completed two straight first downs with throws of nine yards to Meachem and 29 to Graham. Thomas then gained eight yards to set up second and goal at the two. With no gain by Thomas on a second down run, a third down pass intended for Moore was broken up by Posluzny. Kasay kicked the 23-yard field goal to put the Saints up by 13 for the game's final score.