By Daniel Noble – New Orleans Saints Writer
With star Quarterback Drew Brees out of action for up to eight weeks following surgery on his throwing hand, it seemed the New Orleans Saints had a mammoth task ahead of them when facing a fellow playoff team from last season, in the form of the Seattle Seahawks, especially after a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Rams in game week two. However, Sean Payton’s side overcame their doubters as they adjusted to life without Brees with a hard-fought victory thanks to an outstanding performance from Running back Alvin Kamara.
The Saints won the toss and elected to defend at the start of the game. Despite starting the game on offense, the Seahawks were unable to gain a foothold in the contest due to sound play from the Saints’ defense and multiple blunders from the home side’s offensive unit that resulted from the heavy downpour of rain which they seemed unprepared for – something you would expect of an away side rather than a team playing at home.
As it went for 3rd & out, the Seahawks special teams came on for the punt but it was spectacularly returned for a 53-yard touchdown by Deonte Harris to open the scoring in what was the first Saints punt return of this season. Will Lutz secured the extra point to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.
It was as expected, Teddy Bridgewater, the highest-paid backup QB in the NFL who got the nod over Taysom Hill in Brees’ absence, and as he saw his first action of the game, it was cut short as the Saints’ offense was given two penalties due to unforced errors and as a result were forced to punt. Just as the home fans were calling for their team to make some headway, QB Russell Wilson showcased his great chemistry with Wide Receiver Tyler Lockett to advance to the Saints’ 26-yard line before the pair again linked up for an 8-yard TD as they tied the scoring and ended the first quarter 7-7.
The Seahawks looked to kick on with their momentum from the first quarter and seemed to have started well as they almost picked a pass from Bridgewater and forced the Saints to punt. However, as Chris Carson rushed for first down, Saints Cornerback Eli Apple forced the ball from his hands before Vonn Bell collected it and went on for a TD to give his side a 13-7 lead as Lutz missed the extra point.
Things went from bad to worse for the Seahawks as Saints defense continued to smother their attack, forcing them to go for it on a 4th&1, which resulted in a turnover on downs. With the Saints now on offense Bridgewater had the opportunity to impress and he delivered, completing a 29-yard pass to Alvin Kamara, who brilliantly danced past his opponents to score his first TD of the season as his side went into half-time with a 20-7 lead.
Saints looked stuck for ideas in the third quarter and as they went to 4th&4, Lutz attempted a 53-yard field goal which came up short. However, Seahawks were awarded a 5-yard penalty and handed automatic first downs to the Saints. Bridgewater took advantage with a fine pass to Michael Thomas to get to within one yard of the end zone before Bridgewater and Thomas linked up again for TD on 4th&goal as they gained a 27-7 lead.
The only other action worth talking about in the third quarter involved more slick running from Kamara to give his side a great opportunity, but it came to nothing as Bridgewater threw a superb pass to Jared Cook on 3rd&3 but Cook did not seem prepared and thus dropped the ball.
New Orleans took a healthy lead into the final quarter but it soon became nervy as Wilson found C.J. Promise from the 33-yard line on 4th&3 to secure first downs in the Saints’ Redzone, Wilson ran through for TD as they narrowed the margin to 27-14. However, the Saints quickly responded as the obvious game MVP Kamara ran through Seahawks bodies for another TD but Bridgewater unsuccessfully went for a two-pointer.
Seahawks did not give up and again made the end of the game nervy for the Saints as Wilson ran into the end zone for his second TD, cutting the deficit to 33-21. The Seahawks went on to get within four points late on with a TD from Will Dissly, but there simply was not enough time remaining for the home side as the Saints secured a 33-27 win.
Although Teddy Bridgewater played an important role in his team’s victory and certainly done enough to justify his place at QB, the Saints have Alvin Kamara to thank for their win in this tough fixture. Kamara largely carried the offense on his back as shown in the fact he clocked up more yards (159) than every other Saints player combined (104).
One thing’s for sure though, if they are to succeed in the absence of Drew Brees, the link-up between Bridgewater and Kamara will be key. It will certainly be interesting to see if they can carry their chemistry into Week 4’s match-up with the Dallas Cowboys.