Brilliant Winston leads Saints to blowout win against Packers

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

The two featured QBs, Aaron Rodgers and James Winston (Maggie Pasterz)

The New Orleans Saints opened the 2021-2022 season with a dominant 38-3 victory against the Green Bay Packers. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston threw for five touchdowns in a stellar performance, while the Saints defense suffocated the Packers offense. The game was originally scheduled to be played in the Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans, but was relocated to Jacksonville, Florida due to the effects of Hurricane Ida.

The Saints opened the game with a long drive capped off by a 44-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. After forcing a three-and-out, New Orleans received the ball and marched down the field; finishing the drive off with an Alvin Kamara touchdown on a shovel pass right at the beginning of the second quarter.

Near the end of the second quarter, the Saints scored another touchdown, this time to Juwan Johnson receiving from Winston from one yard out. Saints head coach Sean Payton demonstrated his aggressive nature on this drive, when he converted two fourth downs on the drive.

With a minute remaining in the half, the Packers put together their only good drive of the day. Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers 49 yards in a little over a minute, culminating in a 39-yard Mason Crosby field goal.

The Packers began the second half brightly, entering the red zone following a decisive drive. However, Rodgers’ poor pass was easily intercepted by Paulson Adebo, with the throw being well behind his intended target. Later in the quarter, Rodgers threw another interception on a deep pass, this time to Marcus Williams. Again, the throw was poor, with Rodgers well overthrowing the receiver. Winston and the Saints punished the second interception by throwing his third touchdown of the day to Chris Hogan.

The Saints opened the fourth quarter with two more Jameis Winston touchdown passes, with Johnson catching his second touchdown of the day and a 55-yard strike to Deonte Harris to extend the lead to 38-3.  

Packers fans got a glimpse of their future when young quarterback Jordan Love came into the game for Rodgers. Love looked bright in his cameo, although he lost a fumble at the end of the fourth quarter, ending the game.

Winston looked sharp, going 14-20 for 148 yards and five touchdowns. Crucially, Winston avoided throwing interceptions, something which haunted him in his last full season as a starter. The Packers did appear to have one interception at the end of the third quarter, but it was called back due to a roughing-the-passer penalty. Winston also ran for 37 yards on six carries, looking quick and decisive with every scramble.  

Saints running back Kamara was also productive, with 20 rushes for 83 yards. Kamara looked dangerous every time he touched the ball, with his early touchdown showcasing his speed and strength as the Saints star running back.

The Saints defense suffocated the Packers offense, forcing three turnovers and two sacks. New Orleans’ secondary held Rodgers to just 133 yards through the air and did not allow any Packer rusher to have more than twenty yards for the whole game.

In more good news for the Saints, shutdown cornerback Marshon Lattimore agreed to a five year, $97.6 million dollar extension with the team. However, Lattimore did sustain a thumb injury during the game that will require surgery.  

Next week, the Saints will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Carolina Panthers in a key early season NFC South showdown. The Panthers fought off a late New York Jets comeback to win their opening day matchup 19-14.