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Saints overcome slow start, late night to beat Detroit 35-29

The Saints struggled early in the game after some players had a very late night waiting for results on COVID testing.
Credit: AP
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith, defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Desmond Trufant, catches a 20-yard pass for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints spotted Detroit 14 points quickly, dominated the game’s middle and converted some key third downs on a game-sealing final drive in a victory over the Lions 35-29 Sunday.

The Saints did so after a long night waiting to see if the game would even be played after a positive COVID test that later turned out to have been a false positive.

"It's one of those games where you're awfully proud of your team," head coach Sean Payton said about his team overcoming adversity.

The Saints struggled out of the gate with Detroit driving for an easy score on its first possession to make it 7-0. Drew Brees then threw a pass that was batted down and picked off. Detroit quickly scored again and led by two touchdowns only four and a half minutes in.

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That’s when the Saints started looking like the team we thought they were, scoring touchdowns on five straight possessions to take a 35-14 lead.

Detroit scored twice to cut it to 35-29 but the Saints converted two third downs on a final drive that kept the ball from the Lions.

“I’m proud of how we got ready to play despite the circumstances,” said head coach Sean Payton about the team’s long night. 

Several players had to get tested for COVID after a test came back positive on Michael Burton. A separate test came back negative and the other players who were near him also tested negative, allowing the game to go on.

The Saints, after the initial turnover, rolled on offense with Drew Brees connecting on downfield throws to Tre’Quan Smith and Emmanuel Sanders, hitting 19 of 25 passes for 228 yards.

The Saints also ground out first downs with 42 rushes for 164 yards.

Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray combined for 33 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns.

For Kamara, it was another big game after a long night that had him up until the wee hours awaiting COVID test results.

“I was up until 3 a.m. Had to get tested. Nobody cares (about that) at the end of the day,” he said.