Alvin Kamara and Jameis Winston were the happy beneficiaries of the Seattle Seahawks’ many mistakes.
Then it was rookie Brian Johnson’s turn to make sure the New Orleans Saints got the win they needed to keep pace in the NFC South.
“In a game like this where things are close, things get a little a little ugly towards the end, it builds confidence to be able to come into a game like this and close it out the way we did,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said.
Johnson kicked a 33-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining in his NFL debut, and New Orleans outlasted Seattle 13-10 on Monday night.
Kamara carried the load for New Orleans and Winston made a handful of plays when needed, but the Saints (4-2) escaped Seattle thanks largely to a series of blunders by the home team, which is sorely missing injured quarterback Russell Wilson.
Two of the Seahawks’ biggest mistakes came on New Orleans’ deciding drive when Seattle was flagged for roughing the passer and jumping offside on a long field-goal attempt. Both penalties gave New Orleans first downs, and Johnson’s field goal coming out of the 2-minute warning put the Saints ahead.
Johnson, a rookie from Virginia Tech, made an extra point and both field-goal tries, connecting from 21 yards in the first half.
“It was tough trying to see what the wind was doing because it was changing constantly throughout pregame and the game itself,” Johnson said. “So just stick with my plan that I had coming into it and really focusing on just hitting my ball and hitting good contact that will cut through the wind.”
Geno Smith made his second start at QB for Seattle (2-5) since Wilson suffered a serious finger injury in a loss to the Rams. The backup hit DK Metcalf for an 84-yard touchdown in the first quarter but went nowhere when the Seahawks had a final chance to tie or win.
Smith was sacked on consecutive plays by Malcolm Jenkins and Demario Davis. On fourth-and-28, Smith was pressured again and his throw to Metcalf fell incomplete.
Smith went 12 of 22 for 167 yards – half coming on the TD toss to Metcalf – and was sacked five times as Davis, Cameron Jordan and others made his night uncomfortable.
Seattle has lost three straight for the first time since 2011 and fell to 0-3 at home for the first time since 1992. Although both defeats with Smith under centre have been by three points, the Seahawks aren’t the same without Wilson, who’s out until at least mid-November.
“I’ve been here a long time and if we didn’t have Russell, I probably wouldn’t have been here a long time because of all the magic he has created over the years,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Kamara finished with 10 catches for 128 yards and a 13-yard TD reception late in the first half. It was his fifth career regular-season game with double-digit receptions. He rushed for 51 yards.
Winston was 19 of 35 for 222 yards and added 43 yards rushing. He also made enough plays – thanks to Seattle penalties – to get the Saints in range for the winning field goal.
Seattle appeared to get a stop, but Marquise Blair was called for roughing the passer on a third-down sack after hitting Winston with the crown of his helmet. Kamara then sprinted past a blitz for 12 yards on third-and-10 and the Saints were in field-goal range.
Al Woods jumped offside as Johnson lined up for a 43-yard attempt, allowing New Orleans to burn another 90 seconds off the clock before Johnson made the shorter try.
“We got to get right,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We’ve got to really fix our mistakes, play smarter, make less penalties.”
Seattle’s Jason Myers missed a pair of field goal attempts from 44 and 53 yards – the second into the open end of the stadium after Smith took another costly sack. Myers made a 50-yarder.
Kamara had 21 touches on New Orleans’ 39 offensive plays in the first half. He was mostly ineffective on the ground, but Seattle couldn’t slow him down in the pass game. He already had 108 yards receiving by halftime.
Four of his receptions came on the final drive of the half when his 31-yard catch-and-run out of the backfield set up his 13-yard TD catch and a 10-7 halftime lead.
“Every game has a life of its own, so that was just the flavour of this week, ended up getting a lot of touches,” Kamara said.
RING OF HONOUR
Former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck was inducted into the team’s Ring of honour at halftime. Hasselbeck, who played for Seattle from 2001-10, held most of the team’s passing records until Wilson’s arrival and led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl appearance.
New Orleans starting left guard Andrus Peat injured his shoulder in the first half. He briefly returned but left again late in the second quarter. ... Blair suffered a serious patellar tendon injury to his right knee late in the fourth quarter. He had major surgery on the knee early in the 2020 season.
Saints: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Seahawks: Host Jacksonville on Sunday.