SEATTLE — Teddy Bridgewater wanted to stay composed. He wanted to remain calm and in control while taking over for the next several weeks with the New Orleans Saints' leader, Drew Brees, sidelined with injury.
But emotions can often be tricky to control. And in the moments before making his first meaningful start since the 2015 playoffs, they all hit Bridgewater.
"I was thinking about the process from the time I was injured up until now and just thinking about all the ones who believed in me and just being back on this stage," Bridgewater said.
Three years removed from a knee injury that nearly ended his career, Bridgewater was an unexpected winner Sunday. He threw two touchdown passes in his first start with Brees out, watched his teammates add TDs on defense and special teams and help lead the Saints to a 33-27 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
The narrative entering the week centered on whether the Super Bowl hopes of the Saints (2-1) were lost with Brees out following surgery to repair a ligament near his right thumb. The week ended with Bridgewater throwing his hat into the stands as he ran off the field following his first win as a starting quarterback since Jan. 3, 2016, the final week of the 2015 season.
"I said all week Teddy is a leader," Saints running back Alvin Kamara said. "He had composure. He had poise and we got it done."
Bridgewater had started Week 17 last season, but that was a meaningless game. The Saints had their playoff seed wrapped up. Sunday had significance and Bridgewater relished his opportunity.
"You never want to take the game for granted," Bridgewater said. "I think last year what happened, we had the playoff spot locked up. To come into a game like today that has more meaning was one of those games where your emotions are high because the game has meaning and you haven't experienced this in a long time."
Bridgewater threw a 29-yard touchdown to Kamara late in the first half on a screen pass where the talented running back bounced off several tacklers on his way to the end zone. He added a 1-yard TD toss to Michael Thomas on fourth-and-goal on the first possession of the second half, a drive kept alive by an illegal formation penalty against Seattle on a missed field goal attempt.
But the key for New Orleans was a pair of first-half touchdowns with Bridgewater standing on the sideline.
Deonte Harris took a punt back 53 yards for a score in the first quarter, and Vonn Bell picked up Chris Carson's third lost fumble in three games, and returned it 33 yards for a TD in the second quarter.
The two non-offensive touchdowns for New Orleans, plus Seattle's numerous miscues took pressure off Bridgewater. He didn't need to win the game. He simply needed to avoid his own errors, which he did. He got the ball in the hands of his playmakers, Kamara mostly, and didn't take unnecessary risks. Bridgewater completed 19 of 27 passes for 177 yards.
Kamara had nine catches for 92 yards and added another 69 yards rushing.
"He's like a human joystick," Bridgewater said. "You get him the ball he's spinning, he's juking, he's bouncing off of guys."
The Saints took advantage of Seattle's sloppiness and handed the Seahawks (2-1) their first home loss in the month of September under Pete Carroll. Seattle had been 15-0 at home in September since 2010. The first loss will sting after Seattle gave gifts to the Saints all day, whether it was turnovers, untimely penalties, terrible tackling or costly clock management. It was an equation of errors by Seattle that was too much to overcome.
"Just had a really hard time getting out of our own way," Carroll said.
Payton won for the first time in his career without Brees as his quarterback. It was a limited sample size of just three previous games and a stat Payton joked as being "silly" afterward.
"That sells papers. I got it," Payton cracked.
Russell Wilson threw an 8-yard TD to Tyler Lockett in the first half and ran for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His 2-yard TD run early in the fourth pulled Seattle within 27-14. New Orleans went three-and-out on its next drive, but Seattle couldn't convert on fourth-and-1 deep in its own end and Kamara scored on a 1-yard plunge for the capper. Wilson also missed Lockett on a fourth-down throw in the end zone in the third quarter.
Wilson was 32 of 50 for 406 yards and added a 4-yard TD to Will Dissly on the final play of the game.
Bridgewater was helped by Seattle's pass rush being unable to create consistent pressure. The debut of Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah playing together on the defensive line yielded minimal results. Seattle had zero sacks, only two quarterback hits. While Bridgewater got rid of the ball quickly, he was comfortable in the pocket.
END OF HALF
Seattle missed a chance to trim the deficit at the end of the first half because of poor clock management. Seattle took possession with 29 seconds left and two timeouts. The Seahawks chose not to use a timeout after a 9-yard completion to Dissly. Wilson took the next snap with 10 seconds left and after scrambling hit DK Metcalf for 54 yards to the Saints 16. Seattle attempted to call timeout, but officials said it came after the clock hit zero.
Saints: New Orleans returns home after two weeks on the road and faces Dallas next Sunday.
Seahawks: Seattle travels to NFC West rival Arizona next Sunday.
Numerous mistakes prove too much for Seahawks to overcome
SEATTLE — Pete Carroll's day started with getting whacked in the face by an errant football during pregame warmups to the point he needed a bandage to close the gash.
It didn't get any better from there. For Carroll or the Seattle Seahawks.
"Sometime a game goes like that and you just can't get out of your own way and you make the mistakes that cause the problems and you just can't recover," Carroll said.
Seattle's strong start to the season crashed under a cavalcade of errors in Sunday's 33-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks were 2-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl championship season of 2013, but were undone by a series of mistakes that overshadowed their huge statistical advantage.
Seattle gave gifts to the Saints all day, whether it was turnovers, untimely penalties, terrible tackling or costly clock management. It was an equation of errors that was too much to overcome.
Seattle's unbeaten start through two weeks deserved an asterisk. The Seahawks outlasted winless Cincinnati 21-20 in Week 1, despite Andy Dalton throwing for 418 yards without A.J. Green. Seattle followed last week winning 28-26 at Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger playing only half the game because of an elbow injury.
So there was some good fortune in starting 2-0. And getting to 3-0 seemed likely with the Saints playing minus Drew Brees.
"You can't expect things like this to happen like it's happened in other games and everything just continues to go our way and we find a way to win," Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. "At some point it was going to have to stop being in disguise and it was going to have to reveal itself to us that we can't shoot ourselves in the foot. We can't continue to do these things thinking that we're still going to win."
Carroll said he got smacked by the wayward ball on the final play of pregame warmups and it should have been an omen. New Orleans had a 7-0 lead before Teddy Bridgewater ever had to take a snap in place of Brees, after Deonte Harris returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown in the opening minutes. It was the first punt return for a score against the Seahawks since 2015.
It was just the beginning.
Chris Carson fumbled for the third time in three games, this time watching Vonn Bell return the turnover 33 yards for a touchdown. Alvin Kamara bounced off multiple defenders and scored on a 29-yard screen pass late in the first half. Al Woods was penalized for lining up over the center on a missed field goal attempt on the opening drive of the second half. The penalty gave New Orleans a first down and eventually became a 1-yard TD catch by Michael Thomas.
Seattle was even penalized for having a non-uniformed player come onto the field following a turnover in the second half.
"We just had critical penalties and critical mistakes in certain moments that cost us, whether it was a penalty, missed tackle," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "It was always something at a critical moment that didn't allow us to turn it around."
The oddity was how big the day ended up being for Seattle statistically.
Russell Wilson threw an 8-yard TD to Lockett in the first half and ran for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His 2-yard TD run early in the fourth pulled Seattle within 27-14. New Orleans went three-and-out on its next drive but Seattle couldn't convert on fourth-and-1 deep in its end and Kamara scored on a 1-yard plunge for the capper. Wilson also missed Lockett on a fourth-down throw in the end zone in the third quarter.
Wilson was 32 of 50 for 406 yards and added a 4-yard TD to Will Dissly on the final play of the game. It was the second-most yards passing in a game for Wilson. Lockett had a career-high 11 catches for 154 yards.
Seattle had 515 yards of total offense — third most in Carroll's tenure as head coach — and lost.
"You can't put yourself in the hole and expect to just find a way to be able to always come back every single time," Lockett said. "For us, I think it's a learning experience and it helps us down the road."