A little faith and a little luck lifted the New Orleans Saints to a season-opening 16-15 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon.
New signal caller Derek Carr was unstable for the first three quarters before locking in on the last two possessions to make for 10 points and a Saints victory.
“Defensively, we were great,” New Orleans head coach Dennis Allen said. “The best teams are able to finish in this league and our guys did a great job of executing the plan. We knew it was going to be difficult to run the ball on offense and we’re excited that we beat a tough team.”
On the opening kickoff, New Orleans fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Tennessee safety Amani Hooker inside the Saints red zone. However, the Saints’ defense held the Titans to the first of five field goals and only 285 yards total offense.
Tennessee kicker Nick Folk converted all five field goal attempts, but the Titans were never able to cross the goal line.
In the first half, New Orleans had two lengthy offensive drives that were stopped by either sacks or miscommunication. Rookie kicker Blake Grupe knocked two chip shots down before halftime and the Titans led 9-6 going into the break.
The faith in Carr and the offense came in the third quarter, as Grupe connected another field goal while Carr found speedy receiver Rashid Shaheed for a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:23 left. These 10 points gave the Saints a 10-point lead that was never relinquished.
Despite Tennessee controlling most of the time of possession in the fourth, they could only knock through two more field goals as the Saints’ defense finished with three sacks, three interceptions, and 10 hits on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Carr led the Saints offensively, tossing for 305 yards on 23 of 33 passing with one touchdown and an interception. From the air, second-year wideout Chris Olave had 112 yards on eight receptions followed by Shaheed with 89 yards on five catches and a touchdown.
New Orleans linebacker Demario Davis finished with 10 tackles while defensive tackle Carl Granderson had 1.5 sacks. Defensive backs Marcus Maye, Marshon Lattimore, and Paulson Adebo each had an interception.
Next up for New Orleans is a Monday Night Football matchup with the Carolina Panthers on September 18 in Charlotte, N.C.