Estonian defensive lineman Margus Hunt and his home club New Orleans Saints started their NFL season with a victory as they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home 34:23.
After a failed opening drive by the Saints, the Buccaneers, led by legendary quarterback Tom Brady, marched down the field in nine plays to put the visitors up 7:0. Before the first period was over, Saints quarterback, another Hall of Fame player, tied the game with a short pass to Alvin Kamara, tying the game.
Kamara reached the endzone once more in the second quarter, giving the Saints a 14:7 lead, which kicker Will Lutz added three more to before the end of the first half.
Tampa Bay went for a field goal with 3:36 remaining in the second period, but big number 95, Margus Hunt, was able to penetrate the line of blockers and reached up to block the kick. Hunt, who was dubbed the "Eastern Block" in college at SMU for his kick blocking abilities, also added a tackle for loss in his New Orleans debut.
Hunt said of his blocked kick: "Felt awesome. Great week of preparation. Just had to get the, you know, first little jitters out starting out the game and it was smooth sailing after that."
Hunt signed a one-year deal with the Saints over the summer after playing three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts, with his best season in 2018 where the versatile defensive lineman notched five sacks along with many big plays for head coach Frank Reich.
Hunt, originally from Karksi-Nuia in Viljandi County, started as a field athlete and joined the Colts in March 2017 as a free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted him from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 2013.
The second half started well for the Saints as cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Brady and took it 36 yards for a defensive touchdown, giving the Saints a 24:7 lead. Brady was able to recover and took his team down the field, throwing a touchdown to tight end O.J. Howard. Tampa added a field goal, going into the final period with a seven-point deficit.
Emmanuel Sanders added a touchdown for the Saints in the fourth, Will Lutz extended the lead to 17 the drive after. Although the Buccaneers were able to score one more touchdown, it was too little and the Saints finished the game with a 34:23 victory.
The Saints will continue their season with a meeting with the newly moved (from Oakland) Las Vegas Raiders next Monday.
Other scores from NFL Week 1:
- Kansas City Chiefs - Houston Texans 34:20
- Atlanta Falcons - Seattle Seahawks 25:38
- Baltimore Ravens - Cleveland Browns 38:6
- Buffalo Bills - New York Jets 27:17
- Carolina Panthers - Las Vegas Raiders 30:34
- Detroit Lions - Chicago Bears 23:27
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Indianapolis Colts 27:20
- Minnesota Vikings - Green Bay Packers 34:43
- New England Patriots - Miami Dolphins 21:11
- Washington Football Team - Philadelphia Eagles 27:17
- Cincinnati Bengals - Los Angeles Chargers 13:16
- San Fransisco 49ers - Arizona Cardinals 20:24
- Los Angeles Rams - Dallas Cowboys 20:17
The rest of the Saints' 2020 regular season looks like this (home games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in bold, kick-offs in Estonian time):
- Week 2: Tuesday, September 22, 3.15 a.m.: At the Las Vegas Raiders
- Week 3: Monday, September 28, 3.20 a.m.: Green Bay Packers
- Week 4: Sunday, October 4, 8.00 p.m.: At the Detroit Lions
- Week 5: Tuesday, October 13, 3.15 a.m.: Los Angeles Chargers
- Week 6: Bye Week
- Week 7: Sunday, October 25, 7.00 p.m.: Carolina Panthers*
- Week 8: Sunday, November 1, 11.25 p.m.: At the Chicago Bears
- Week 9: Monday, November 9, 3.20 a.m.: At the Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
- Week 10: Sunday, November 15, 11.25 p.m.: San Francisco 49ers
- Week 11: Sunday, November 22, 8.00 p.m.: Atlanta Falcons*
- Week 12: Sunday, November 29, 11.05 p.m.: At the Denver Broncos
- Week 13: Sunday, December 6, 8.00 p.m.: At the Atlanta Falcons*
- Week 14: Sunday, December 13, 11.25 p.m.: At the Philadelphia Eagles
- Week 15: Sunday, December 20, 11.25 p.m.: Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 16: Friday, December 25, 11.30 p.m.: Minnesota Vikings
- Week 17: Sunday, January 3 2021, 8.00 p.m.: At the Carolina Panthers*
* = NFC South divisional rival.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste