Playing without star quarterback Drew Brees in a meaningful game for the first time in four years the New Orleans Saints got touchdowns from special teams and the defense to take a 20-7 halftime lead over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Deonte Harris provided the first touchdown with an electric 53-yard punt return with 12:06 left in the first quarter. Harris, an undrated rookie from Assumption College, made the first two defenders miss and then had clear sailing up the left side.
After the Seahawks (2-0) tied the score on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett, the defense struck. Cornerback Eli Apple stripped the ball from Seattle running back Chris Carson and safety Vonn Bell returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. Kicker Wil Lutz missed the point-after attempt.
Harris' touchdown return was the Saints' first punt return for a touchdown since Sept. 27, 2015, at the Carolina Panthers. That was the last game Brees missed due to injury. Brees had surgery on his injured thumb last week and will be out an indefinite time.
Teddy Bridgewater started at quarterback and after a slow start led the offense on a 58-yard scoring drive at the end of half that was capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass to running back Alvin Kamara. Bridgewater was 10 of 14 for 87 yards. Taysom Hill played quarterback on one play, a handoff to Alvin Kamara. Receiver Michael Thomas didn't have a reception until 1:44 remained and the offense only produced 115 yards but the contribution of the other two units kept the Saints on top.
Punter Thomas Morstead was excellent, pinning the Seahawks inside their 5-yard line twice, once with a 64-yard punt, the second with a 53-yarder. In addition to the fumble return for a score, the defense stopped Seattle on fourth-and-1 with 2:33 to play which led to Kamara's score.
The Saints (1-1) are trying to win their first game in Seattle since Oct. 14, 2007. The half was played in a steady rain.
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