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Saints fall flat against Vikings, drop fourth straight season opener

Sam Bradford was nearly perfect against the Saints defense, as the team suffered a bitter defeat on the national stage.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night wasn’t the start the New Orleans Saints were looking for. Miscues, breakdowns, and general inefficiency highlighted the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Saints took their opening drive 13 plays for 56 yards on the game’s opening possession. Sean Payton wasted no time getting Adrian Peterson involved, calling his number on the very first play for a 9-yard rush. The drive featured a mix of Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and John Kuhn carrying the ball, as well as a big pickup on an Ingram screen. Unfortunately, penalties hindered the Saints at the end, and settled for a 43-yard Wil Lutz field goal.

The Vikings countered with a drive of their own, getting big aid from two penalties by rookie Saints defenders Marcus Williams and Alex Anzalone. Dennis Allen’s defense bent, but didn’t break on the drive, settling for a Kai Forbath 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.

Fast forward to the 2nd Quarter, and the Saints took the lead 6-3 after a 13-play, 59-yard drive. The drive was helped out by a questionable roughing the passer call on Tom Johnson going low on Drew Brees, and then the offense kept it going with two big connections to Coby Fleener.

On the next possession, the Vikings would strike quickly. Sam Bradford found a wide open Stefon Diggs in the end zone after just three plays. Bradford found Adam Thielen on a big 35-yard pickup with Manti Te’o in coverage as part of their 74-yard drive to go up 10-6.

Sean Payton would gamble after Thomas Morstead pinned the Vikings offense deep from a 68-yard punt, calling timeouts and putting faith in his defense to get the ball back for a potential 2-minute drive. Unfortunately, it bit him. The Vikings would get a huge play from Bradford to Thielen of 44 yards in which P.J. Williams was torched in coverage, and just a few plays later Stefon Diggs hauled in his second touchdown of the night to put the Vikings up 16-6 before the half after Kai Forbath missed the extra point.

The Vikings went 5-for-7 on third downs in the half, and Sam Bradford was nearly perfect at 17-of-20 for 197 yards passing with 2 touchdowns.

Minnesota received the opening second half kickoff, and continued to go to work. Bradford found Diggs yet again, who torched De’Vante Harris in coverage (yet again) to put the Vikings in Saints territory quickly. The defense caught a break with a Dalvin Cook drop to only allow a 32-yard field goal by Kai Forbath to extend their lead to 19-6.

The Saints offense came to life late in the 3rd Quarter after getting a big stop on defense, which saw Drew Brees connect with Tommylee Lewis for a 52-yard strike to set the offense up with a 1st and Goal. Unfortunately, they couldn’t cash in on a touchdown, and settled for another Lutz field goal to cut the deficit to 19-9.

Enter the 4th Quarter, and the Vikings were able to get an early touchdown due to more lackluster play from the Saints defense. Sam Bradford, who looked like Joe Montana, was able to get his third touchdown pass and eclipse the 300-yard mark after finding Kyle Rudolph wide open for the score. The lead was extended to 26-9.

The Saints would settle for another field goal after threatening again to put it at 26-12. It was a good-looking 12-play, 73-yard drive, but once again, the offense was held out of the end zone. So, if you had Wil Lutz in on your fantasy football team, you definitely cashed in.

Like most of the night, the defense couldn’t counter for the Vikings offensive attack. In turn, they’d add to their lead with another Kai Forbath field goal to go up 29-12 with just four minutes to go in the game. The Saints added a late score after the 2-minute warning courtesy of a Brees to Coby Fleener hookup to trim the scoreboard to 29-19, but that was all she wrote.

It’s the fourth straight season the Saints have lost their season opener, and fifth loss in the last six tries on Monday Night Football. Facing a somewhat shortened week with a very vengeful Patriots squad coming to town for Week 2, this all feels pretty familiar for Saints fans.