NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Derek Carr passed for 305 yards and a touchdown in a difficult but successful Saints debut, and New Orleans held on to beat the Tennessee Titans 16-15 on Sunday.
The Saints' defense did not allow a touchdown, intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times, sacked him three times, and stopped Tennessee on 10 of 12 third down plays.
Chris Olave caught eight passes for 112 yards for New Orleans, while Rasheed Shaheed had five receptions for 89 yards and the game's lone touchdown. Michael Thomas, who missed the final 14 games last season, returned to catch five passes for 61 yards.
The teams traded field goals for most of the game before New Orleans finally found the end zone with 1:23 left in the third quarter. Carr pump-faked and lofted a pass toward the right side of the end zone an instant before the pocket collapsed. Shaheed was in the clear and hauled in the 19-yard scoring pass to make it 16-9.
After the Titans' Nick Folk hit two more field goals from 45 and 29 yards, Tennessee needed one more third-down stop for a chance to win. That's when Carr, on third and 6, hit Shaheed deep down the left sideline for 41 yards to the Tennessee 26. Jamaal Williams' first-down run allowed New Orleans to run out the clock.
Tannehill finished 16 of 34 for 198 yards and New Orleans limited star running back Derrick Henry to 63 yards rushing. DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 65 yards in his Titans debut.
Carr's first play from scrimmage as a Saint was a 25-yard completion to Thomas along the left sideline.
That was not, however, an auspicious sign of things to come in the first half, which ended with Carr being intercepted by safety Amani Hooker on the Titans' 12.
The turnover preserved Tennessee's 9-6 lead at halftime.
Titans: DB Kristian Fulton received attention for an ailing hamstring in first half but returned to the game. DT Kyle Peko received attention in the fourth quarter but was able to walk to the sideline. Hooker briefly received treatment in the final two minutes.
Saints: DE Payton Turner left the game with a toe injury in the first half. DB Alontae Taylor limped off the field early in the fourth quarter but returned.
Titans: Play their home opener next Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Saints: Visit Carolina for their first NFC South matchup on Monday, Sept. 18.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
Brett Martel, The Associated Press