If someone would have said Jameis Winston was going to be the quarterback that led their team to a 38-3 win and threw for a historic 5 touchdowns in Week 1 rather than Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers, no one would have believed.
After losing Drew Brees to retirement and being displaced due to Hurricane Ida just weeks before their first game, Winston and the Saints made a statement on their temporary home field at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday.
Winston went from leading the NFL with 30 interceptions in his last season as a starter in Tampa Bay in 2019, to throwing an efficient 14 of 20 for 148 yards against the Packers in 2021. He finished the day with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Harris in the fourth quarter and more importantly for the Saints organization, zero interceptions.
"That was for the city," Winston said. "We did that for them. We knew how much it would mean to get a great victory for that region. They've been through so much. ... Hats off to them for their resilience, because they motivated us. They inspired us to come out there and ball."
While Winston deflected from how meaningful his performance was for him, the stat sheet said enough. He finished with just 143 passing yards in a five-touchdown games, using various tactics to avoid pressure. He ran four times for 38 yards with three first downs. In his postgame interview, he shared a few wise words from Brees that he put on display Sunday.
The Saints sure did look like the more seasoned team as their defense shut down the Packers’ offense. Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers threw for two interceptions and zero touchdowns.
In the second half of the game, Green Bay moved down the field quickly in 10 plays showing a promising turn of events. However, Saints’ cornerback Paulson Adebo ruined their plans of a touchdown by getting his first pick of his career.
Although the Saints didn’t capitalize on that play, Rodgers never bounced back and his offense struggle with penalties. Rodgers was eventually pulled from the game with about 10 minutes left and for the Packers, it’s back to the drawing board.
Winston and the Saints proved many wrong and have taken their win back to Dallas as they prepare for Week 2 at Texas Christian University’s training facility. It is unclear when they will return to New Orleans, but as they excel through this adversity, the expectations will continue to rise.