After a long nine months, New Orleans Saints football has returned and they start their 2023 campaign at home in the Caesars Superdome versus the Tennessee Titans. Both defenses held strong throughout most of the game with the Saints scoring the first touchdown of the game late in the third quarter. That score would help elevate New Orleans over Tennessee 16-15 to open the season 1-0.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Saints received the opening kickoff with Rashid Shaheed being the return man. Safety Amani Hooker forced the fumble and the Titans recovered at the Saints’ 24-yard line.
Penalties pushed the Tennessee offense back and Ryan Tannehill there an incomplete pass on third down. Kicker Nick Folk knocked through a 50-yard field goal to put the Titans up three just over a minute into the game.
New Orleans took it all the way to the Tennessee eight-yard line on their first possession. Michael Thomas caught two passes for 37 yards while Shaheed made a 22-yard toe-tap catch on the sideline. Derek Carr’s pass to Thomas on third down fell incomplete and they would settle for a 26-yard Blake Grupe field goal.
The Titans followed that up with an 11-play 68-yard drive. Derrick Henry ran for 33 yards on four carries which led to a 27-yard field goal by Folk. Tennessee went up 6-3 with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
A couple of drives later, Tennessee would line up to punt but Ryan Stonehouse was blocked by Zack Baun and went out of bounds at the Titans 28-yard line. Former LSU Tiger Arden Key hit Carr’s arm as he threw and the ball fell incomplete on third down. Grupe put through the 33-yard field goal to tie the game at six.
On 3rd & 5, Tannehill looked deep to DeAndre Hopkins, who was double covered. Marshon Lattimore intercepted the pass at the 41-yard line of the Saints. The offense of New Orleans couldn’t do anything with the ball as Carr was sacked on second and third down.
Following that punt, Henry caught a screen pass from Tannehill and took it 46 yards to the New Orleans 24-yard line. The defense of the Saints would stand tall and force the Titans to kick a 31-yard field to reclaim the lead with 1:40 left in the second quarter.
Juwan Johnson caught Carr’s pass down the middle for a gain of 27 yards and got across midfield. The Saints would get to the 31-yard line but Carr was intercepted by Hooker. Bryan Bresee and Pete Werner together sacked Tannehill to end the half. Tennessee was up 9-6.
The Titans got the ball to start the second half. Tannehill went deep on play action, Isaac Yiadam tipped the ball and Marcus Maye came down with the ball for the interception at the six-yard line of the Saints.
Chris Olave on 3rd & 3 made a big catch across the middle for 45 yards to set up the Saints at the 41-yard line of the Titans. The drive would result in a 52-yard kick by Grupe to tie the game at nine.
On 3rd & 5, Carl Granderson sacked Tannehill and forced Tennessee to put the ball back to New Orleans with under eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
After a punt by New Orleans, Paulson Adebo intercepted Tannehill on third down at the Tennessee 33-yard line. On 3rd & 7, Carr found an open Shaheed from 19 yards out for the Saints’ first touchdown of the 2023 season. New Orleans was up 16-9 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
The next drive by Tennessee lasted 12 plays for 48 yards. Ugo Amadi broke up the pass on third down and Tennessee brought out Folk for a fourth kick to cut the deficit to four.
Folk made another field goal to make it a one-point game with less than two minutes to go in the game. A huge catch down the sideline by Shaheed put the Saints in field goal range and helped clutch a 16-15 win over Tennessee.
BIG NUMBER: 3
The defense of the Saints came into play to open the 2023 season as the unit intercepted three passes from Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They also sacked Tannehill three times and Zack Baun blocked a punt in the first half.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Derek Carr
Carr had a nice debut in the Black and Gold as he completed 23 out of 33 passes for 305 yards and the game’s lone touchdown as the New Orleans Saints defeated the Tennessee Titans 16-15 to open the season 1-0.
UP NEXT: The New Orleans Saints will have an extra day off to prepare as they travel to face the NFC South divisional foe Carolina Panthers on Monday evening, September 18th. The kickoff for that game is scheduled for 7:15 and you’ll be able to hear all of the action on ESPN 103.7 Lafayette and 104.1 Lake Charles.