Saints Drop Ugly Preseason Opener 17-14 to the Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens stretched their preseason winning streak to 18 straight games, using a late touchdown to beat a sloppy New Orleans Saints team 17-14 in their preseason opener.
The Saints had 10 penalties and six turnovers in the loss, so there are clearly things that need to be worked on before their second preseason game at home on Aug. 23 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite the glaring issues, Saints head coach Sean Payton said there were positive takeaways from the preseason opener.
"I liked our energy," Payton said. "We're going to watch the tape and like a lot of things that we see."
Taysom Hill started at quarterback in the Saints first three drives. In his first drive, he connected with wide receiver Marquez Callaway three times for 61 yards. However, on first-and-goal from the Ravens nine yard-line, running back Latavius Murray fumbled to end a promising drive.
On Hill's second possession, a pass intended for Ty Montgomery was intercepted. Hill was also unable to score on his third and final drive, and he got sacked on a third down to end that drive in a punt. He finished his night with 81 yards and an interception on 8/12 passing.
Jameis Winston took over for Hill at the end of the first quarter, but he was not able to attempt a pass before running back Devonta Freeman fumbled on the first play of the drive, giving the Saints their third turnover in four offensive possessions.
The Ravens finally took advantage of the mistakes, using a 56-yard field goal to break the scoreless tie in the second quarter.
Saints running back Tony Jones Jr. took over on Winston's second drive, rushing three times for 63 yards and a touchdown to give New Orleans a 7-3 lead.
In Winston's third possession, he executed an excellent two-minute drill, completing his final five passes, including an eight-yard touchdown pass to Lil'Jordan Humphrey to give the Saints a 14-6 lead.
Saints defensive back Bryce Thompson intercepted Ravens quarterback Trace McSorley on the very next play, but a deep ball by Winston was tipped and intercepted. It was the last offensive play of the first half for the Saints, and Winston's last throw of the night. He finished with 96 yards, a touchdown, and an interception on 7/12 passing.
Rookie Ian Book was the starting quarterback for the entire second half for the Saints. Similarly to Hill's opening drive, Book made some nice throws to get deep into Baltimore territory, but a fumble by Jones Jr. ended the drive. It was the Saints fifth turnover of the night.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Ravens took the lead on their first touchdown of the night and converted the two-point conversion to take a 17-14 lead.
In their final possession of the night, Book hit tight end Juwan Johnson for a huge 38-yard gain, but he underthrew a deep ball that ended up being intercepted, sealing the loss.
Each quarterback that played snaps for the Saints threw an interception and each running back that got a carry ended up fumbling once. The six turnovers were a major key in the tight loss.
Outside of the fumble, Jones Jr. had a nice game. He finished with seven carries for 82 yards and a touchdown. He also added five receptions for 38 yards.
The defense had a solid performance in the preseason opener. The front seven dominated the game early, and Baltimore struggled with only seven yards in their first 10 plays over three possessions.
The next preseason game for the Saints is in New Orleans on Monday, Aug. 23 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.