Jameis Winston says the best play he made against the Packers was a ball he threw away

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Jameis Winston says the best play he made against the Packers was a ball he threw away
Jameis Winston. James Gilbert/Getty Images
  • Jameis Winston threw five touchdowns against the Packers in the most shocking performance of Week 1.
  • Winston said after the game that the best play he made wasn't a touchdown, but a ball he threw away.
  • Winston has struggled with turnovers in the past, but has focused on minimizing mistakes this year.

The first game of the post-Drew Brees era for the New Orleans Saints got off to a shocking start on Sunday when newly promoted starting quarterback Jameis Winston threw for five touchdowns in a 38-3 rout of the Green Bay Packers.

Winston's stat line is a marvel. He found his receivers in the end zone five times despite completing just 14 of his 20 passes for 148 yards. It's the first time in NFL history a quarterback has thrown five touchdowns without clearing 150 yards. Even more important, Winston didn't turn the ball over.

When NBC Sports' Peter King spoke with Winston after his win, the Saints quarterback said his best play of the game was not on one of his touchdowns but rather on a play where he threw the ball away.

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"Imma tell you!" Winston said excitedly after King asked him to recount his play of the day. "Fake wide zone to the left, late in the first quarter. I think we were at the Green Bay 37. I threw the ball away."

While the play might seem unremarkable in a game full of highlights, it was a sign of growth for Winston.

"We had this same play called the other day in practice," Winston told King. "And I was trying to make a play, and I threw it, and [Saints linebacker] Kaden Elliss intercepted it. So I just said to myself, If we call that play in the game this week, and it's not there, I'm gonna throw it so high out of bounds that Shaq can't pick it off. And that's what I did."

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Winston credited the teaching he received last year from Brees in helping his development.

"One of the great things I learned from playing with Drew [Brees] last year was decisions over results," Winston told King. "Sometimes the right decision is a play that gains nothing. Just keep making good decision after good decision, and the game's going to go okay."

Saints head coach Sean Payton was also complimentary of Winston's decision to throw the ball away in a tight spot.

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"I love that," Payton told King when informed that Winston had said his favorite play was ultimately an incompletion. "I really love it. When people say, 'Throw it away!' what does that mean exactly? There's more to it than just know when to throw it away-it's got to fit in everything that you do. That play at the 37 that he threw away is a winning play. He knows we've got other plays that are going to work well and are coming."

Winston has shown potential as a dominant NFL passer in the past, but constant struggles with turnovers have derailed his career on several occasions.

In 2019 with the Buccaneers, Winston led the league in passing and threw for more touchdowns than every quarterback aside from MVP Lamar Jackson. He also led the league in interceptions that year with 30 - nine more picks than any other quarterback.

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Winston's decision to throw the ball away on Sunday was just one play, but if it's indicative of a real change he's made since taking over the starting job with the Saints, he has the potential to put up some eye-popping numbers.

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