Sun, 26 May 2019

Fast starts propelling Saints winning streak

Sports Xchange
13 Nov 2018, 12:49 GMT+10

METAIRIE, LA. -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed Monday that he destroyed a fire alarm in the visitors' locker room at Paul Brown Stadium before Sunday's game against the Bengals.

About 30 minutes before the team was scheduled to head to the field for warm-ups, the alarm went off and kept blaring for 10 minutes as Payton lost patience.

"It was just something that had gone on and in order for us as we got ready for the game (it) was important (to keep our consistent routine)," Payton said.

It's understandable that Payton wouldn't want anything messing with his team's pre-game routine, given the way they've been starting games.

The Saints went out Sunday and scored a touchdown on their first possession for the third consecutive game and rolled to a 35-7 lead as they routed the Bengals 51-14.

New Orleans drove 75 yards in 15 plays on the first possession of the game.

"I think it's huge to be able to come out there and put together a drive," tackle Ryan Ramczyk said. "That was a long drive and we just kept chipping away and ultimately it puts out a statement at the start of the game. We can move the ball at will and I think it's crucial in each game to come out and get a good first drive."

The last time New Orleans didn't score a touchdown was against Baltimore a month ago when it held the ball for 20 plays and 10-plus minutes before losing a fumble on a fourth-down run.

Overall the Saints have scored six first-possession touchdowns in nine games.

"Some teams have to play catch-up because of our offense," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "Some teams want to go right to the throwing game and know that they have to have a fast pace, move the ball (on) offense to be able to stay in the game and sometimes that's abandon the run game and just throw the ball.

"Later in the game or even throughout the game you see teams go for it on fourth down against us because they know they have to be able to keep (up)."

On the flip, in the last three games New Orleans has allowed a touchdown on its first defensive series.

"We talked about it because it's happened after we've opened with the touchdown and you know you'd like to be able to create some separation right away," Payton said. "Starting fast is something we're working on not just offensively, but as well defensively."

--WR Brandon Marshall signed with the Saints on Monday, replacing Dez Bryant, who went on injured reserve after tearing an Achilles in practice last Friday. Marshall brings similar elements to the Saints that they thought they were getting with Bryant. "He's smart, he's experienced," coach Sean Payton said of Marshall. "He is someone that has been in a number of systems and overall had a good workout. He has good length and size. He's another big target."

--DE Cameron Jordan is usually a workhorse who plays more than 90 percent of the Saints' defensive snaps. But the fact that the Saints had the game well in hand Sunday allowed Payton to rest a lot of starters and Jordan was among the first to get a break. He played on just 53.5 percent of the defensive snaps.

--WR Keith Kirkwood was elevated from the practice roster because of a series of injuries and was put to work right away. Ted Ginn Jr. went on injured reserve last month, Cameron Meredith joined him last week to make room for Dez Bryant, and Bryant joined both of them Saturday. Kirkwood played 34 snaps on offense and made two catches for 45 yards and he played 13 snaps on special teams.

--T Jerome Bushrod hadn't played since the death of his infant daughter, Jordyn Lynn, on Oct. 18. He was thrust into the lineup in the second quarter when starting left tackle Terron Armstead suffered a shoulder injury. Bushrod wound up playing 51 snaps Sunday.

--WR Tre'Quan Smith has emerged as the top receiver behind Michael Thomas, but you couldn't tell that by Sunday's game. Not only did the rookie third-round draft choice not catch a pass, he wasn't targeted the entire game.

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