Saints finally home, host Giants in Superdome
The New Orleans Saints are finally playing a game in the Superdome when they face the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.
The Saints technically opened the season with a home game for scheduling purposes, but they faced the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville, Fla., because New Orleans was in the early stages of recovering from Hurricane Ida.
Now they return to what coach Sean Payton called “a venue where many think it’s one of the most difficult places to play.”
New Orleans (2-1) was displaced to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a month before returning home after a 28-13 victory at New England last Sunday.
“As soon as we got to the locker room, you could hear chanting of, ‘We’re going home. We’re going home,'” wide receiver Marquez Callaway said. “I’m happy to have slept in my bed finally and just happy to be here.”
The Saints will play before a full house at home for the first time since a divisional playoff loss to Minnesota after the 2019 regular season. The Superdome was empty at the start of last season and only a few thousand fans were allowed in later in the season because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s going to be crazy in that building,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “I can’t wait for it.”
The Saints are a much different team than the one that played against the Vikes on Jan. 5, 2020. Drew Brees has retired, and the team has relied more on its defense and running game as the passing game adjusts to new quarterback Jameis Winston.
New Orleans is second-to-last in passing offense (341 yards), but third in scoring defense (14.0 points per game).
“Honestly, when I get on the bus (after a game) I’m not even thinking of how many yards we just threw for,” Payton said. “We’re in the business of winning. We’ve done a good job of understanding how to win football games two of these first three games.”
The Giants (0-3) are still trying to figure out how to win a game. They have lost their last two games on last-second field goals by Washington (30-29) and Atlanta (17-14).
“Close isn’t good enough,” Giants coach Joe Judge said, adding that the last-second field goals didn’t tell the whole story.
“Sometimes it’s four or five, seven, 10, whatever it is, plays throughout the game,” Judge said. “You have to look at it and say, ‘These were really the plays that stopped us early that prevented us late from having success.'”
The Giants are tied for third worst in the NFL with five touchdowns. They’ve converted just one-third of their red-zone opportunities into TDs (3-for-9).
“We have a couple different focal points to make sure we finish better in the red zone,” Judge said. “That’s something we have to do better as a team.”
Wide receivers Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Darius Slayton (hamstring) were among four injured Giants to miss practice Wednesday.
Center Erik McCoy (calf) and tackle Terron Armstead (elbow) were the only Saints to miss practice Wednesday.
Judge expects a significant advantage for the Saints in the Superdome, where they have won their last three meetings with the Giants.
“We expect one of the greatest atmospheres we’ve ever been in,” he said. “That town takes a lot of pride in New Orleans, a lot of pride in their team and the team takes a lot of pride in representing their city.”
–Field Level Media