JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The New Orleans Saints used a stellar defensive effort and an efficient performance by Jameis Winston to body slam the Green Bay Packers 38-3 Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida.
The win, coming as it did after two weeks practicing away from home and playing a home game on the road, against one of the favorites in the NFC, was as impressive a regular-season win as there has been in the Sean Payton era.
"I loved our energy, loved our energy," said head coach Sean Payton after the game. "We did it against one of the best quarterbacks this league has seen in some time."
Payton credited a lot of behind-the-scenes people who helped make the team's transition to practicing in Texas and playing in Jacksonville nearly seamless - and he was quick to state that what the team faced was nothing compared to what south Louisiana is facing after Hurricane Ida.
"The challenges back home are far greater than our team getting on a plane and playing an away game," he said. "Hopefully today was a good break from everything else people have been focused on."
The Saints had 3 first-half possessions and went 9 plays for a field goal, 15 plays for a touchdown, and 15 plays for a touchdown while limiting Green Bay to a single field goal to end the half as they took a 17-3 lead into the break.
Any chance Green Bay had to get back into the game, likely ended when Rodgers threw two interceptions in the Pack's first two possessions in the second half.
The Saints were so efficient on both sides of the ball that they didn't punt until there were four minutes remaining in the game. Nor did they turn it over.
Jameis Winston ran for key first downs, made efficient throws, took advantage of a major break on a roughing penalty, and aired out a major bomb to Deonte Harris for a score.
It was his first start in nearly two years and he said he wasn't nervous.
"My trainer hit me with a text this morning and said, ‘pressure is for the unprepared.’ It was a great team effort."
Aaron Rodgers had one of his poorest games as a professional player, he was even pulled from the contest with more than half the fourth quarter remaining. Rodgers finished 15 of 28 passing for 133 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. A quarterback rating of 36.8.
He was pressured, though he was only sacked once, and the Saints' secondary was on the receivers like glue. Rodgers was picked off twice, including once in the red zone, for the first time since the 2019 season.
Meanwhile, Winston was 14 of 20 passing for 148 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 4 times for 38 yards and some key first downs.
"I ain’t had no questions about him," said running back Alvin Kamara, who had 83 yards rushing and caught a touchdown pass from Winston. "Jameis is a pro quarterback. I’m impressed, I guess, but that’s what I expected from him."
"I thought he played very well," said Payton. "He was locked in, focused."
Since the Saints won’t play a home game in the Caesars Superdome during the first month of the season, it was imperative to get off to a fast start. You can check that one off the list.