SEATTLE -- The New Orleans Saints found a novel way to replace quarterback Drew Brees on Sunday. They scored their first touchdown on a punt return before their offense even took the field -- then added a defensive TD in the second quarter.
Undrafted rookie returner Deonte Harris returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead at Seattle after the Saints' defense forced a three-and-out to start the game.
The dynamic 5-foot-6, 170-pounder, who holds the NCAA all-division record with 14 career return TDs at Division II Assumption College, also returned a punt for a TD in the preseason to secure his spot on the roster. On Sunday's TD, Harris knifed his way between two defenders to start the return -- then found a seam through the rest of the defense.
When the Saints' offense eventually took the field on New Orleans' second series, Teddy Bridgewater got the start at QB, as expected.
Then in the second quarter, Saints cornerback Eli Apple stripped the ball away from Seahawks running back Chris Carson, and safety Vonn Bell returned it 33 yards for another TD. That gave New Orleans a 13-7 lead, thanks to a missed extra point.
The last time the Saints had a special teams TD and defensive TD in the same game was Week 10 of 1998.
The Saints' first offensive TD was a pretty nifty one, as well, just before halftime -- vintage Alvin Kamara making guys miss on a 29-yard screen pass.