It wasn’t pretty, but the end result was all that mattered for the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, as they rallied in the fourth quarter to come away with a 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
How It Happened
The Jaguars got the ball first and really set the tone early with a 15-play drive that took a little more than seven minutes off the clock, capping it off with a two-yard run from Blake Bortles to give them an early 7-0 lead. The Saints started things off offensively with great field position thanks to a 36-yard kickoff return by Brandon Tate to put them at their own 40-yard line. However, they couldn’t even things up, having to settle for a 45-yarder from Wil Lutz after two straight incompletions by Tom Savage.
The Jaguars then had another lengthy drive, but this time had to settle for three points early in the second quarter when Josh Lambo drilled a 49-yard field goal through the uprights to make it 10-3. Savage started to put things together on the Saints second offensive drive, going five-of-six and capped things off with a two-yard run by Mark Ingram to even things up with 6:14 left until halftime.
However, the Jaguars were able to take a three-point lead into the locker room with another 49-yarder from Lambo.
Jacksonville’s defense came out of the gates strong in the second half, forcing a turnover on downs when they were able to sack Taysom Hill on consecutive plays. That strong effort turned into points with Cody Kessler leading them back to the endzone with an 11-play drive capped off by a short pass to Scott Orndorff, giving the Jaguars a 20-10 lead.
The Saints didn’t give up though, putting together a 12-play drive highlighted by a 21-yard run by Hill to get into enemy territory. The former BYU QB followed that up with a three-yard run into the endzone to make it a three-point ballgame once again.
The Jaguars looked like they were beginning to salt away at the clock, but Jayrone Elliott helped get the ball back for New Orleans with a strip sack that was recovered by Taylor Stallworth to give them excellent field position. JT Barrett then orchestrated a quick drive down the field that ended with Jonathan Williams running up the gut to give the Saints the lead.
Big Number: 59.6
The run-pass ratio has been a talking point since the 2017 season came to an end with the Saints becoming a lot more balanced offensively and the preseason opener showed that with the Saints running it 59.6 percent of the time. Two or three years ago, it was skewed towards the passing game, but with the acquisition of Alvin Kamara in the draft has changed that and in what amounts to a meaningless ballgame, that looks to remain the same after one preseason game.
Player of the Game: Jayrone Elliott
Before the preseason opener, I couldn’t tell you what this guy was capable of, but he made it abundantly clear that he has some talent that the Saints might need to take a look at. Sure, it was largely against second and third-string guys, but 2.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles is a pretty good way to get some attention on you after one game.
Next Up: vs Arizona Cardinals; Kickoff 7 pm
– Clint Domingue