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How the Saints got that momentum shifted and seized a comeback win vs Titans

How the Saints got that momentum shifted and seized a comeback win vs Titans

category : Sport
12/22/2019 6:45:00 PM
By : midouyouness
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas stretched out as far as he could. Thomas, after catching his 11th pass of the day, tried to break the plane of the goal line to score a touchdown on his NFL record-breaking 144th catch of the season.

The touchdown was overturned on video review, but the Ohio State product put the finishing touches on his record-setting day anyway. He found the end zone two plays later to give the Saints a 38-28 come-from-behind victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon in Nissan Stadium.


"It was good to get a win, be it we started off slow," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We did a few things to get that momentum shifted."


One of those game-changing aspects was rookie returner Deonte Harris, who finished Sunday's game with 171 combined return yards, 150 of those on kickoff returns. The Saints only started one drive inside their own 10-yard line and started eight of their drives, thanks to Harris, at the 30-yard line or further downfield.


"That was big," Brees said. "I think that obviously gave us a lot of momentum going into the half, and then we came out with the ball on the first possession in the second half and took the lead right there and never looked back." Brees completed 27 of 38 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns, while Thomas finished the game with 12 catches for 136 yards and that one touchdown.


The Saints marched out of halftime to score touchdowns on their first three second-half drives. Running back Alvin Kamara found the end zone on back-to-back possessions. Kamara's 40-yard rushing touchdown early in the third quarter was his first time in the paydirt since Week 3.


"For one reason or another, he just hasn't gotten in the end zone for a while," Brees said. "But I hope we broke that seal. Obviously he got in twice today, and hopefully there is a lot more where that came from."


Kamara's second touchdown went for 1 yard, helping him reach 80 yards rushing for the first time also since Week 3, when he had 92 at Seattle. He admits he's been hampered at least a little with knee and ankle injuries suffered midway through the season, but he's getting back to himself now.


"I think it's a race every week to get as close to 100% as you can," Kamara said. "So that's what I've been trying to do." Cook had another touchdown in the third quarter, giving the Saints their second 10-point lead. And then Thomas' touchdown came via a little help from the defense.


With 4:23 remaining in the game, rookie safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson hit Titans wide receiver Kalif Raymond so hard that the ball fell out of his hands. Gardner-Johnson picked up the ball and darted back up the field for 37 yards to set up the game's final score. The first half for the Saints was eventful, but mostly in a negative fashion. Nine of the Saints' 11 penalties came in the first half. Most of those came on offense, putting the Saints in first-and-15-type situations.


"This game was sloppy," Kamara said. "A lot of penalties. Shot ourselves in the foot." The Saints punted the ball away on the opening drive, ending the team's streak of first-possession scores at six. They ended up punting four times in their first six drives. The Titans struck first when Tannehill found tight end Jonnu Smith for a 41-yard touchdown on their second drive.


The Saints responded by going three-and-out; Brees was sacked for the first time since Week 12 to bring up the fourth down. Tennessee ran out to a 14-point lead after rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown carried the ball for a 49-yard rushing touchdown.


New Orleans didn't get on the board until early in the second quarter, when kicker Wil Lutz made a 47-yard field goal. The frame started with back-to-back false-start penalties from guard Nick Easton, pushing the Saints back to first-and-15 each time. The Saints and the Titans exchanged empty drives until right before the two-minute warning. Then Brees aired out that 61-yard touchdown to Cook. After Lutz's PAT, the Saints were down four.


Lagniappe


Records: Lutz's first half field goal broke the franchise record for most field goals in a single-season. ... Thomas' 11th catch of the game broke the NFL's record for receptions in a single-season. Injury updates: Eli Apple limped off the field with an apparent left ankle injury in the first quarter. After being evaluated in the medical tent, he was carted to the locker room. He was questionable to return. ... Marcus Williams left the game with a groin injury in the second quarter. He was questionable to return.


Up next: The Saints (12-3) head to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play the Carolina Panthers in the regular-season finale. A victory, combined with a loss by the Packers on Monday night at Minnesota or by the 49ers next Sunday night at Seattle, would give New Orleans a first-round playoff bye.

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