NFL

Winston's thoughts with New Orleans after Saints pound Packers

Quarterback Jameis Winston paid tribute to New Orleans after the relocated Saints won their 2021 NFL opener against the Green Bay Packers.

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Winston's thoughts with New Orleans after Saints pound Packers

Jameis Winston starred as the New Orleans Saints opened the season with a "home" game played more than 500 miles away from the Superdome.  In discussing his team's 38-3 pounding of the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville, Florida, the quarterback's thoughts kept returning to New Orleans and the surrounding area.

Asked about his feelings regarding Sunday's game, Winston answered by illuminating the challenges facing the Saints' home community in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which forced the team to relocate its operations to Dallas two weeks ago. 

"We did that for them," Winston said. "We knew how much it would mean to get a victory. They've been through so much, and for us to celebrate this victory with them is amazing. Hats off to [the people of New Orleans] for their resilience. They inspired us to go out there and ball."

No one balled quite like Winston, who had five touchdown passes in the New Orleans rout as he made his first start for the Saints after serving as the backup to Drew Brees last season. Winston said the Saints remained composed despite the many distractions thrown their way in recent weeks, and it paid off Sunday. 

Saints stay cool

"We were prepared. That was the message today," he said. "My trainer texted me this morning that 'pressure is for the unprepared'. I think that one thing we consistently did as a unit with Sean [Payton, the head coach] and with [administrative director] Jay Romig, along with our entire organization, is that despite the adversity of being in Dallas and all that we're dealing with at home, our mindset stayed the same. We prepared to play against Green Bay and prepared to play the best football that we could, and we did that."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter from 2015-19, Winston refused to revel in his return to the spotlight after outshining Aaron Rodgers and the Packers

"Coach [Payton] says all the time that we're in a race to get better," Winston said. "We are going to celebrate this game today, but there are people dealing with way worse than me right now. There are still people in Louisiana without power. I'll probably reflect on it after our season is over, but right now we have to keep getting better. There's some things that I won't like when I watch the film tonight, so we still have to get better."

Panthers up next

Next up for the Saints: a true road game Sunday at the Carolina Panthers followed by a trip to New England to face the Patriots in Week 3.