JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Teddy Bridgewater found Jared Cook for a 4-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Saints held on to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 13-6 on Sunday and improve to 4-0 without injured starter Drew Brees.
Coming off a 300-yard, four-touchdown performance against Tampa Bay, Bridgewater was less effective against the Jaguars (2-4). But he did enough for New Orleans’ defense, which turned Minshew Mania into Minshew Mayhem.
Gardner Minshew was sacked twice, hurried often and threw his first interception as a starter. The rookie sensation completed 14 of 29 passes for 163 yards and was held without a touchdown for the first time this season. His worst outing came on the same day the team, in conjunction with the NFL, handed out 30,000 “Minshew mustaches” as fans entered the gates.
Bridgewater was 24 of 36 passing for 240 yards for the Saints (5-1). He picked up a first down on a quarterback sneak in the closing minutes to seal the victory.
Michael Thomas had eight receptions for 89 yards, and Alvin Kamara finished with 31 yards rushing while playing through an ankle injury.
Leonard Fournette ran for 72 yards, ending a two-game streak of reaching the century mark on the ground.
Jacksonville finished with a season-low 226 yards. The Jaguars had a chance late, but Minshew threw incomplete on a fourth-and-2 play from the New Orleans 40-yard line.
Saints linebacker Demario Davis delivered a knockout hit on tight end Geoff Swaim in the fourth quarter. Swaim was seemingly unconscious as he hit the ground. Team trainers and paramedics rushed onto the field. Davis knelt next to Swaim and removed his helmet.
Swaim eventually sat up and walked off the field without assistance.
New Orleans was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.
The Saints got some unexpected – and likely unintentional – support from the Catholic Church before the game.
Pope Francis included the Saints logo in a tweet Sunday morning. New Orleans football fans took it as good omen for their team.
“Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession,” he tweeted.
The hashtag added the Fleur de Lis, the emblem associated with the Saints and worn on their helmets.
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was inactive for the third consecutive week because of an apparent back injury. Ramsey was ruled out three days after owner Shad Khan said he expected the disgruntled defender to play against the Saints.
Jacksonville recognized more than 80 former players before the game and honored the team’s top 25 players from its 25 years of existence at halftime. Left tackle Tony Boselli, running back Fred Taylor and receiver Jimmy Smith got the biggest ovations during the ceremony.
Jacksonville kept rookie linebacker Quincy Williams on the bench. Williams was taken out in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss at Carolina. The third-round draft pick was out of position on many plays as the Panthers ran for 285 yards, the second most in Jacksonville’s history. Veteran backup Najee Goode started in his place.
Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee, who missed all of last season after tearing three ligaments in his left knee, injured his right foot/ankle in the third quarter and had to be helped to the locker room. … Jaguars cornerback D.J. Hayden left in the fourth and was evaluated for a concussion. … Jaguars special teams captain Cody Davis left the game in the first half with a right hamstring injury but later returned.
Saints play at Chicago next Sunday. New Orleans has won the past four meetings.
Jaguars play at Cincinnati next Sunday. The Bengals have won four of the past five meetings.