It was not a good night for the New Orleans Saints or the replacement officials calling the game tonight. The Saints defense struggled against second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars first string offense.
Jacksonville won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Jaguars opened the game with a nine-play drive that lasted over five minutes and end with a Blaine Gabbert touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Gabbert was a perfect three-of-three for 38 yards on the drive but the bulk of the load was carried by running back Rashad Jennings, who rushed for 42 yards on six carries. Jacksonville had a quick 7-0 lead on a drive where the Saints defense struggle to cover in the passing game and missed tackles on nearly every play.
New Orleans took their first possession from their own 20-yard line. Saints quarterback Drew Brees lead his offense down the field, but the drive stalled at the Jaguars 18-yard line.
Garrett Harley kicked a 37-yard field goal to cap off a nine-play drive that took a little over three minutes to cut the Jaguars lead to 7-3. Brees was 3-for-6 on the drive for 53 yards and running back Mark Ingram ran the ball twice for nine yards.
Jacksonville punted on their next drive, but the Saints could do nothing with the ball, punting it back to the Jaguars after failing to gain a first down on three plays. Gabbert took possession on his third drive of the night from his own 34-yard line with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Jaguars would then go on a 14-play drive that took over eight minutes over 66 yards to take a 14-3 lead. Gabbert got Jacksonville into the end zone for the second time on the night on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Colin Cloherty. On the drive Gabbert was a perfect six-for-six.
New Orleans would only have the ball for one play after the Jacksonville score. Dropping back to pass, Brees was sacked by Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who forced Brees to fumble. The fumble was recovered by Jacksonville’s Terrance Knighton at the New Orleans 15-yard line.
The Jaguars weren't able to convert a first down off the fumble. Jacksonville took a 36-yard field goal by Jose Scobee to take a 17-3 lead.
New Orleans would start their next drive from their own 15-yard line and Brees went to work. He lead the Saints on a nine-play, 85-yard drive that took four and half minutes.
On his final drive of the night, Brees was six-of-six passing for 66 yards. The drive was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson to cut the Jacksonville lead to 17-10.
Brees' night was over after the scoring drive and he finished 10-of-13 for 133 yards with a touchdown and lost fumble. In his final drive of the night, Brees finally looked like the quarterback who lit up the NFL though the air last season.
Gabbert got one final drive, but Jennings would be stuffed on a fourth-and-one play from the New Orleans-19 yard line. The former Missouri Tiger, Gabbert, would finish the night 13-of-16 for 112 yard and two touchdowns.
After stopping the Jaguars, New Orleans would be unable to score before halftime. At the half, Jacksonville led New Orleans 17-10.
The Jaguars surprised the Saints to open the second half with an on-sides kick. Jacksonville recovered the kick but was unable to do anything with it, punting away.
On the Saints first possession of the second half, Chase Daniel hit Joseph Morgan on the fifth play of the drive for a 53-yard touchdown that tied the game at 17-17. Daniel was three-of-three on the drive for 74 yards.
Jacksonville closed out the third quarter scoring with field goal from a Chad Henne drive. The Jaguars would lead 20-17 after Henne led the team on a 10-play drive that nearly took four minutes.
Henne would finish the night, four-of-nine with no touchdowns and one interception.
Neither team did very much with the ball for most of the fourth quarter. It was not until there was a little over five minutes left in the game that New Orleans went on the move again.
Daniel lead the Saints on an eight-play, 80-yard drive in just over three and half minutes to give New Orleans a 24-20 lead. The drive would be capped on a 24-yard touchdown pass by Daniel to running back Travaris Cadet.
On the play, Daniel held on to the ball until the last possible second before finding Cadet, who broke a couple of tackles before bounding into the end zone. The play cemented how far Daniel has come as quarterback and likely sealed Cadet making this team.
Daniel lead the Saints in passing as he completed 16-of-21 pass attempts for 185 yards and two touchdowns. New Orleans just had to hold on to the lead for the final 1:53 of the game, but then things got crazy.
Jacksonville had replace Henne with Jordan Palmer, and started their final drive on their own 26-yard line. Palmer moved the Jaguars to their own 37-yard line, where he faced a fourth and one.
After throwing an incompletion that would have ended the game, Jacksonville got a pass interference penalty to keep the drive alive. On the penalty it looked like the Jaguars receiver, Matt Vedlman, took a flop into the Saints defender Isa Abdul-Quddus.
The penalty would set Jacksonville on the New Orleans 32-yard line. New Orleans got the Jaguars to a third down—when Jacksonville had a second pass-interference penalty go their way.
This time the Saints earned the penalty, when Cord Parks grabbed Chastin West causing him to trip and fall, putting the Jaguars at the Saints six yard line. Palmer would finally be faced with a fourth down and 11.
Kevin Elliott of the Jaguars shook free of this defender to score the game-winning touchdown. Jacksonville would escape New Orleans with a 27-24 win.
The game was marred by a steady stream of challenges by the replay officials, causing the game to be slowed down. Most of the complaints will be centered on the first pass interference penalty, that did look like a bad call.
Still the Saints had Jacksonville down to third down and committed a legitimate pass-interference penalty and allowed the Jaguars to score on a fourth-down play. New Orleans struggled most of the night on defense, giving up 170 rushing yards and 187 passing yards.
Most of the night, the officials did a decent job, but when the replacements were wrong they were bad wrong. If the NFL is going to use replacement officials this regular season, they will need to get these officials as much work as possible.