Saints rally past Jaguars late in first preseason test

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It did not count but it is not inconceivable that we saw a pair of teams that could see each other in Atlanta next February 3.

The Saints and Jaguars are legitimate contenders to reach the Super Bowl from their respective conferences.

The Saints wore a patch on their jerseys and helmets in honor of Tom Benson, with the initials “TB and a silhouette of the Benson Boogie with his famed umbrella.

At TIAA Bank Field, the Saints did enough good things to please fans, if not coaches, Thursday night in a 24-20 victory over Jacksonville.

Here are my Quick Takes on the contest:

**The Saints kicked off and Taysom Hill was on the kickoff team for New Orleans.

**New Orleans opened with its starting defense on the field with the notable exception of defensive ends Cam Jordan and Alex Okafor, along with linebacker Manti Te’o. First-round pick Marcus Davenport did not play, either.

**Leonard Fournette got the start at running back for the Jaguars and rushed for eight yards on the first play from scrimmage and got six more yards on his second carry. On his third carry, Demario Davis got his first tackle.

**Patrick Robinson made an outstanding play breaking up a pass at the goal line for Marquise Lee.

**It did not matter as the Jaguars drove 79 yards in 15 plays, taking 7:02 off the clock with Blake Bortles scoring standing up on a bootleg right to make it 7-0 with 7:58 to play in the opening quarter. The Jaguars passed nine times and ran it six times on the drive.

**Brandon Tate returned the ensuing kickoff 37 yards to the 41-yard line.

**Tom Savage got the start at quarterback for New Orleans.

**Alvin Kamara caught a pass from Savage on the first play from scrimmage and rushed for a first down on the second play.

**Savage missed a wide open Kamara to kill the drive on what was an easy throw to make. Kamara was wide open short and the pass was way high.

**Mark Ingram, who will miss the first four games of the season, got playing time early.

**Josh LeRibeus opened at left guard for Andrus Peat.

**Savage missed a wide open Kamara to kill the drive on what was an easy throw to make. Kamara was wide open short and the pass was way high.

**That led to a 45-yard field goal by Wil Lutz to cut the deficit to 7-3 with 3:38 to play in the first quarter. The drive covered 33 yards in nine plays, taking 4:20 off the clock.

**Arthur Maulet of Bonnabel High School made a nice tackle on the ensuing kickoff. If he wants to make the team as its final corner, he must excel on special teams.

**Cody Kessler took over on the second offensive series for Jacksonville. He drove his team 50 yards in 12 plays, taking 6:18 off the clock with Josh Lambo booting a 49-yard field goal to make it 10-3 with 12:20 to play in the half.

**Sheldon Rankins got consistent pressure up the middle, looking quick.

**Ingram found a hole off the right side and exposed it for 12 yards and a first down.

**Savage then hit Tre’Quan Smith on a 13-yard completion on a good throw for a first down.

**Ingram later scored on a two-yard drive to tie the game 10-10 with 6:08 to play in the half. The drive covered 78 yards in 12 plays, taking 6:12 off the clock. The drive was kept alive by a personal foul on the Jaguars on a hit on Josh Hill.


**Mitchell Loewen jumped offside to give the Jags a first-down but he followed with a really good play against the run in pursuit and a very good pass pressure on Kessler. He then rallied downfield to make a tackle on a completed pass to prevent a first down. He made another tackle late in the half. He left the game with some sort of injury in the third quarter and walked to the locker room under his own power.

**Lambo booted his second 49-yard field goal to give Jacksonville a 13-10 lead with 2:31 to play in the half, capping a seven play, 38-yard drive.

**Dan Arnold, a camp star since moving to tight end, made his first catch for five yards late in the second quarter.

**Davaroe Lawrence picked up a sack late in the half for the Saints and another early in the fourth quarter, making his mark. Then, he was in on another for a half a sack with linebacker Jayron Elliott.

**Savage finished the half 10-of-14 for 70 yards. He managed things well, made a couple of bad throws but handled himself in solid fashion.

**Hill took over at quarterback to start the second half. It did not take him to do what he likes to do best, rolling out and running for a first down on his second play from scrimmage. He took off two more times on the series, looking to run first when things were not there initially or when he felt pressure. That is his natural instinct, his strength, who he is.

**P.J. Williams went down injured in the third quarter.

**Kessler continued to impress in the second half. He drove Jacksonville 51 yards in 11 plays, hitting Scott Orndorff with a seven-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-10 with 4:01 to play in the third quarter. It was another time-consuming drive, taking 6:05 off the clock. On the touchdown, Vonn Bell was slow to react before whiffing on a tackle of Orndorff in the open field.

**Boston Scott had a nice kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff but it was negated by a hold on J.T. Gray.

**Fighting for a roster spot, right tackle Michael Ola was flagged for a personal foul in the third quarter which forced the Saints to punt.

*Tre’Quan Smith made a nice catch on the hands on a throw by Hill and broke a tackle, racing to the three-yard line. He is big, has a very big catch radius and can run after the catch well.

**On the next play, Hill scored on a three-yard run to cut the deficit to 20-17 with 6:55 to play in the game. The drive covered 81 yards in 12 plays, taking 6:33 off the clock. It was a good drive for Hill.

**Tanner Lee, the former Jesuit star who played at Tulane, played the fourth quarter for the Jaguars. He would finish 4-of-8 for 37 yards.

**Maulet made a nice play getting his hand on a deep ball from Lee to force an incomplete pass.

**Henry Mondeaux committed a personal foul with an obvious low hit on Lee to negate a stop by the Saints.

**Then, Elliott came up with a beautiful strip-sack of Lee, causing a fumble and Taylor Stallworth recovered for the Saints at the Jacksonville 30-yard line.


**J.T. Barrett, IV took over at quarterback and drove the Saints 30 yards in six plays, all running plays.

**Jonathan Williams ran hard, breaking tackles on a good 13-yard run. He then ran for five yards. He then cut back for four yards and a first-and-goal at the eight-yard line

**Scott then raced seven yards to the one-yard line on a run to the left side but Barrett then made a poor decision on a bootleg, electing not to throw to an open Scott for what would have been a score and he was tackled for a three-yard loss.


**Stallworth and Elliott then got big sacks of Lee on the final Jacksonville drive. Elliott was nicked up on the sack and left the game.

**George Johnson, who finished well last season, made two nice plays, one on a good pass rush and another by chasing Lee down to tackle him just short of the first down to seal the victory.

**Hill finished 8-of-9 for 72 yards and rushed seven times for 52 yards and a touchdown. Smith caught four passes for 48 yards. Bortles was 9-of-12 for 69 yards while Kessler was 14-of-17 for 139 yards and a score.

Making their mark for the Saints were guys like Williams, Stallworth, Loewen, Elliott, Maulet, Tate, Scott, Arnold, Smith and yes, both Savage and Hill, who did some good things. A negative was certainly the play of the first (and second team) defense against Bortles and Kessler, who had their way.

Very few of the players that will carry the water toward that goal were on display for any significant period of time on this night.

It was the first step to take, a necessary one on the path to success. Winning and losing does not matter in the preseason but it is always nice to win. The Saints play their first home preseason game against Arizona.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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