Saints sweep past Patriots for road win
Published 9:58 pm Sunday, September 26, 2021
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Only one brand of football comes to mind when Jameis Winston thinks about the best New Orleans Saints teams of the past.
“Saints football has always been efficiency and physicality up front,” he said. “That’s all I know. They win up front and they play tough. That’s what we did here.”
Winston threw two touchdown passes, Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception for a score, and the Saints beat the Patriots 28-13 on Sunday. New England is 0-2 at home for the first time since 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season as coach.
A week after posting a career-low passer rating, Winston showed better command of the offense by completing 13 of 21 passes for 128 yards. Taysom Hill ran for a touchdown and Alvin Kamara rushed 24 times for 89 yards and had a receiving TD. He got support from a defense that made Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones’ life miserable.
Jones entered the day hoping to stretch the field after two games in which the passing attack was mostly underneath. Instead, he found himself under pressure for most of the day and threw three interceptions, two leading to Saints touchdowns. New Orleans sacked Jones three times and hit him 11 times. He finished 30-of-51 for 270 yards and a touchdown.
“I think it just goes back to execution,” Jones said. “I can do a better job just sticking to my reads and being patient and letting things develop. I didn’t do a good job of that today.”
Saints safety P.J. Williams returned Jones’ first pick of the day 46 yards to set up a 7-yard TD pass by Winston in the second quarter.
Jenkins was the beneficiary of the second INT, snaring a pass bobbled by tight end Jonnu Smith. He returned it 34 yards and put the Saints in front 21-3.
The Patriots cut it to 21-13 following Jones’ 22-yard TD pass to Kendrick Bourne with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter. The Saints responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ate up 6:45 and ended with at 4-yard run by Hill.
Saints coach Sean Payton harped all week on the Patriots’ impressive 108-7 record at home (including playoffs) since 2000 when they win the turnover battle. He said having a plus-3 differential Sunday was huge.
“We’re mindful of it every week, but it had to be something that was put in our heads every day,” he said. “I thought we took care of the football. I thought that was important.”
New Orleans overcame an early injury to take a 14-3 lead into halftime.
The Saints’ offensive line was already down one starter with center Erik McCoy (calf) ruled out. They lost another early in the first quarter after left tackle Terron Armstead exited with a left elbow injury.
But after going three-and-out on their opening drive, the Saints got efficient, sweeping down the field mixing runs and passes, and a long third-down conversion to get inside the red zone. Winston then put a bow on the 11-play, 69-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kamara.
The Saints turned defense into offense for their second score.
The Patriots had third down near midfield when linebacker Kaden Ellis pressured Jones, forcing a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Williams. He returned it 46 yards to the Patriots 9.
Three plays later Winston connected with Marquez Callaway for a 7-yard touchdown.
“There’s no magic sauce here,” Belichick said. “Just have to go back to work and do better.”