Vikings Wreck Saints In Season Opener
Quarterback Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass to Coby Fleener late in the 4th quarter, the first and only time the New Orleans Saints would reach the end zone on opening night.
The Saints are 0-1 for the 3rd consecutive year, unable to stop the Minnesota Vikings offense, or score consistently on the Viking defense, losing in Minneapolis 29-19.
"They were better than us tonight," said Saints head coach Sean Payton after the loss.
In a season opener filled with story lines, the end result was a lopsided loss for the Saints, and an impressive showing by the Vikings.
Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford carved up the Saints for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns, with ample time to throw in a clean pocket.
Much like it has the last few seasons, the lack of a pass rush on the New Orleans defense led to 470 yards allowed, and an inability to get off the field on 3rd down.
"When we got into the second half, we had trouble stopping much of anything (on defense)", noted Payton.
Adrian Peterson's return to Minnesota was lackluster, with the exception of a terse sideline exchange in which he appeared to verbally communicate his frustration with head coach Sean Payton, though both men denied it was anything of note.
"There was no heated exchange," said Payton. "None at all, and I'm being honest."
Peterson told reporters he has no issues with Payton, and people are "jumping to conclusions".
On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Peterson rushed behind the right tackle for 9 yards. For the remainder of the game, he only rushed for 9 more yards.
As a team, New Orleans rushed for 60 yards, while the Vikings run game gashed the Saints D for 129 yards.
Brees ended the night with 291 yards and a score, but the bulk of the yards came in garbage time late, with the game's winner no longer in question.
New Orleans offensive line couldn't block the front four of Minnesota. Things became more difficult in the 2nd quarter when right tackle Zach Strief left the game with an injured knee. He was replaced by backup Senio Kelemete, who had spent his career at guard.
"It's a tough one to start off the season," said Payton. "The tape will show that a lot of our veteran players have work to do."
Things don't get easier for the Saints, who host the New England Patriots (0-1) on Sunday. New England lost their season opener to Kansas City last Thursday, giving them ample time to prepare for week 2. The Saints have a short turnaround.
"There's a catch 22," explained Payton. "It's a short week, but we've got things to work on...We have to look at tape of this game."
It wasn't pretty.
Kickoff next Sunday versus the Patriots is set for noon.