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Browns vs. Saints: Winners, losers, and honorable mentions

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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It wasn’t pretty whatsoever for the New Orleans Saints, but somehow they escaped with a 21-18 victory over the lowly Cleveland Browns in Week 2 to pick up their first win of the young season. Despite the win, head coach Sean Payton was quick to point out how unhappy he was, and that was the general mood of the team’s locker room. Here’s a few winners, losers, and honorable mentions from Sunday.

Winners

Michael Thomas didn’t get off to a good start at all, putting the ball on the ground. However, Thomas rebounded and turned in a a stellar 12-catch, 89-yard, 2-touchdown day. Thomas was targeted 13 times total, and actually set an NFL record that was previously held by Andre Rison for most receptions (26) through the first two games with 27 total.

Defensively, the Saints had a much better showing than Week 1. Obviously, that may not have been too hard to improve upon, but the front seven looked better overall and played with some real getup. Marcus Williams getting the first turnover of the year was key for the team’s comeback, and he nearly scored after interception Tyrod Taylor. Overall, the team had six tackles for loss.

Losers

Zane Gonzalez might have been the subtle MVP of the day for the Saints, as he missed two field goals and two extra points. I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed a game where a kicker missed that much, especially in the Superdome. The Saints offensive line got bullied a good bit, as it led to three sacks on Drew Brees. They also went just 3-of-12 on 3rd down, which was just horrendous. The short yardage situations were where they probably missed Mark Ingram the most, but it was also in those blitz packages where Ingram is also strong.

Payton talked about the 4th down touchdown given up to Antonio Callaway with Ken Crawley in coverage, and he said that is something that just can’t happen with the defensive call they had in place. Of course, we can’t just overlook the Ted Ginn Jr. fumble either. That’s negative turnover margin is not going to fly.

Honorable Mentions

Taysom Hill really does it all. It’s insane to think a backup quarterback is being used as a special teams ace and kick returner. Payton said in the post game press conference that they just tried Hill on special teams returns during the week, and his first and only return was 47 yards. What’s next for him?

Both A.J. Klein and Demario Davis led the Saints in tackles, finishing with a combined nine each. Overall, the linebacker play was better. Cameron Jordan picked up 2.0 sacks on the day, and Sheldon Rankins also added another. Marcus Davenport put in some solid work on defense, along with Alex Okafor.

Whether it was good or bad, who stood out the most to you?