JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Despite losing Drew Brees to retirement and their home stadium to Hurricane Ida for Week 1, the New Orleans Saints and Jameis Winston got off to a stunningly dominant start in Week 1.
Winston threw five touchdown passes in his starting debut with the Saints — with zero turnovers — as they routed the Green Bay Packers 38-3 in their makeshift “home” venue at Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field. He capped his day with a 55-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Deonte Harris in the fourth quarter, while New Orleans’ defense was just as dominant with two interceptions against reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Winston, 27, was actually one of 10 new starters for the Saints in Week 1 because of Brees’ retirement, an offseason salary-cap purge, injuries and a suspension. The team also lost standout center Erik McCoy to an unspecified leg injury in the first quarter.
On top of that, the Saints spent the past two weeks training in the Dallas area after Hurricane Ida left most of the New Orleans area without power when it hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.
Nevertheless, Winston and the Saints responded with one of the most efficient and dominant performances of the entire Sean Payton era. They possessed the ball for 21:51 in the first half; it what was the Saints’ largest time of possession since 2000. And they became the first NFL team to put together back-to-back 15-play touchdown drives since 2000, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Winston was remarkably effective for most of the game, often settling for smart checkdowns or scrambling away from pressure — as he ran four times for 38 yards and three first downs. He had just 93 passing yards before adding the 55-yard home run to Harris early in the fourth quarter. Winston did have one interception in the second half that was nullified by a personal foul penalty.
The Saints will return this week to Dallas , where they have been training at TCU’s facilities. It’s unclear when they will go home to New Orleans now that power is returning throughout the area. Their next home game is scheduled for Week 4 against the New York Giants.