Jameis Winston and Marquez Callaway Shine in 23-21 Win Over Jaguars
The New Orleans Saints used spectacular first quarter play by quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Marquez Callaway to open up an early lead that they did not relinquish in their 23-21 preseason victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Winston got the start against Jacksonville and shined in his first quarter possessions, making his case for the Saints starting quarterback job.
On his first drive, Winston completed all four of his passing attempts for 66 yards, including a beautiful 43-yard touchdown pass to Callaway to put the Saints up 7-0 early.
According to ESPN stats & info, Winston's touchdown pass to Callaway traveled the most air yards of any Saints passing touchdown in the last five years.
The connection between Callaway and Winston proved to be lethal early. On the Saints third drive, Winston threw his second touchdown of the night, a 29-yard completion which Callaway hauled in with one hand. Callaway finished the first quarter with 104 yards on five receptions with two highlight touchdown receptions.
Winston's night ended with his second touchdown pass, and Taysom Hill took over late in the first quarter. He completed nine of his 10 passing attempts for 123 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Hill had a rough start in his first half drives. After his first two possessions ended in punts after third down sacks, Hill finally led a promising drive. Two completions to Lil'Jordan Humphrey for 50 total yards got the Saints into Jacksonville territory, but a turnover on downs ended the possession.
The Saints defense was stellar to start the first half. In the Jaguars first four drives led by rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville managed to gain only 30 yards on 13 plays. The Jaguars had only one first down in those possessions.
Lawrence and the Jaguars finally put together an extended drive on their fifth attempt, but the Saints defense made a big stop on third down in the redzone to force Jacksonville to settle for a 34-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
After a turnover on downs ended Hill's first promising drive of the night, Jacksonville went on another long 11-play drive. However, the Saints defense held again. A sack by defensive lineman Jalen Dalton set up a 43-yard field goal that Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo missed.
Hill took the Saints offense 33 yards in five plays to set up a 52-yard field goal attempt by Aldrick Rosas, who the Saints signed on Friday, Aug. 20. Rosas hit the deep kick and extended the Saints lead to 17-3 at halftime.
Hill entered the half with six completions on 13 attempts for 86 yards without any touchdowns or interceptions. The team only had nine rushes in the first half while Hill and Winston combined for 23 passing plays.
Head coach Sean Payton elected to give Hill more snaps to start the second half, but his opening drive in the third quarter was among his worst of the entire night. He completed his first pass for six yards, but his second throw was nearly intercepted, and, on third down, he missed an open Juwan Johnson.
After the Saints defense forced another three-and-out, Hill surprisingly came back out for his sixth drive. This time, the Saints quarterback was much sharper, completing all four of his passes for 46 yards and his first touchdown pass of the night, a 14-yard connection with Humphrey.
The touchdown pass was Hill's last throw of the night. He completed 11 of his 20 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown in six drives.
The Saints defense continued their strong performance into the fourth quarter. Linebacker Wynton McManis forced the first turnover of the night by intercepting a pass from Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew in the endzone to prevent another scoring drive.
Trevor Siemian got the snaps at quarterback for the Saints in the fourth quarter, but the offense went stagnant in the final frame. After punting three times, the Jaguars offense finally managed to score on two touchdown drives to bring the game within two points late in the fourth at 23-21.
Running back Dwayne Washington closed the game out with a few first downs, and the Saints won their first preseason game in 2021.
A big improvement from their first preseason loss to the Ravens was the change in turnovers. After losing six turnovers against Baltimore, the Saints protected the ball all night.
Up next, the Saints wrap their preseason schedule up on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7:00 p.m. at home against the Arizona Cardinals.