Sean Payton and company didn’t risk playing any of their players that were dealing with previous injuries, so guys like Delvin Breaux (bone contusion), Marshon Lattimore (sprained knee), Coby Fleener (undisclosed), Ryan Ramczyk (undisclosed), Corey Fuller (undisclosed), and Arthur Maulet (undisclosed) did not play in addition to Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, and Adrian Peterson.
Despite that, there was plenty of good action on the night. Alvin Kamara got the starting nod at running back, and after his first carry of a single yard, he made a great cut on the next play for a 12-yard gain to set the tone in the early stages of the game. He’d finish with 4 carries for 35 yards, and this particular 22-yard run was the highlight of his debut.
Chase Daniel saw fairly limited action, going 4-of-6 for 27 yards. He should have had a touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr., but there was a really bad drop on a sure touchdown. Instead, the Saints settled for a 22-yard Wil Lutz field goal to get the first points of 2017 (preseason at least).
Ted Ginn Jr. Drops the touchdown pic.twitter.com/PmBGjnB8aN— John Hendrix (@JohnJHendrix) August 11, 2017
Ken Crawley had a really bad drive early in the 2nd Quarter, committing some penalties on defense and getting beat in coverage, but redeemed himself to break up a touchdown pass on a 4th and Goal play to get the Saints back the ball. Unfortunately, Garrett Grayson would turn the ball back over on a fumble just three plays later, which led to the Browns taking advantage of the short field to get the game’s first touchdown.
Lutz would add a 42-yard field goal before the half to cut the Browns lead to 7-6 after a 7-play, 34-yard drive. Grayson would lead the team’s opening second half drive with an 11-play, 60-yard march. However, the Saints couldn’t punch it into the end zone after 5 straight run plays to turn the ball back over to the Browns.
Ryan Nassib piloted a 6-play, 50-yard drive in relief for Garrett Grayson after the defense forced a 3-and-out that was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown pass to Tommylee Lewis. Daniel Lasco added a 2-point conversion after the Browns stuffed the first attempt, but were offsides.
The Saints yielded a touchdown late on a 4th and 2 when Damian Swann was burned deep on a go route to give the Browns a 20-14 lead.
- Travin Dural left the game early after a collision. From the looks of the play, it could have been a concussion evaluation. Darius Victor also left briefly after taking a hit, going into the concussion protocol, but returned to action.
- Michael Thomas did Michael Thomas things on his two receptions, being wide open on one pass play when the Saints went with an empty set.
- Aside the fumble, Garrett Grayson finished 11-of-16 for 126 yards (92.2 Rating). He came back in for brief relief of Nassib, but just ended up getting doing handoff duty and getting sacked.
- P.J. Williams led all Saints tacklers with 6, with David Onyemata finishing the night with 5.
- Stephone Anthony, Mitchell Loewen, Alex Jenkins all had sacks on the evening. Al-Quadin Muhammad later split a sack with Loewen. Anthony came up the middle on a delayed blitz untouched, and him making those kind of plays are huge for his roster fate.
- Tommylee Lewis had an incredible night, hauling in 10 receptions for 128 yards (one touchdown) on 11 targets. This 32-yard catch in the 3rd Quarter was his best.