Saints head coach Sean Payton has said he believes quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a “significant” knee injury before being taken off the field in the second quarter of the win Sunday 36-27 against his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I cried when I saw him come in,” admitted Payton, who said he waited to speak to doctors before giving a more detailed diagnosis. “It’s hard.”
True to form, Winston always danced on crutches during the Saints’ post-game dressing room celebration, according to teammate CJ Gardner-Johnson’s Instagram feed. Winston also tweeted a “WHO DAT!” after the game.
Veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian replaced Winston and led the Saints (5-2) to an unlikely victory that was won by the third figure of the game from Bucs quarterback Tom Brady – an interception came back for a touchdown by defensive back PJ Williams with 1:24 remaining.
It’s unclear who will start as the Saints quarterback in Week 9 at home against the Atlanta Falcons – or for the rest of the season if Winston is short on time. Taysom Hill is said to be a natural candidate for the role, but he has been sidelined by a concussion since week 5, although he has made some progress in his recovery.
Winston was injured in a collar tackle by Buccaneers linebacker Devin White – who was flagged 15 yards for shooting Winston through the shoulder area of his jersey, forcing Winston to land awkwardly. Winston’s left leg got stuck behind him as he hit the grass. Coaches and medics watched him on the pitch before helping him slowly limp to the sideline and into the medical tent. He was then helped onto a cart and taken back to the locker room.
Winston completed 6 of 10 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown and scrambled four times for 40 yards before leaving the game tied 7-7. For the season, Winston has 95 of 151 (59%) passes for 1,170 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
“First I want to say how disgusted I am for Jameis. This victory was for him, ”said Siemian, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. “I just feel for the guy, I love him so much. Just being with him, you can’t help yourself, he has this contagious personality. And you’re just sickened when you see someone hurt. But watch him if the injury was hard. ”
Siemian is 13-12 as a career starter – but hasn’t won a game since 2017 with the Denver Broncos. He felt he had “200ish” texts waiting for him after the game, but joked, “Most of them are from my mom.”
“I kind of lost my sense of how much fun it is when you’re out there in a squad and in the middle of a practice and scoring,” Siemian said. “There’s a joy in this game that you can’t chase anything else, and it was pretty fun doing that.”
Williams, who caught the decisive interception, was actually a teammate with Winston at Florida State and was one of many Saints players who expressed their support for Winston after the game. Payton said he gave Winston a game ball. Several teammates hugged Winston as they walked off the pitch, including injured wide receiver Michael Thomas, who was watching the game on the sidelines in street clothes.
White also said he went upstairs and patted his ex-teammate on the head, saying, “I hate that happening to you, man. Because you play good ball and pray for yourself. ”
“Because, man, Jameis is a good guy. He’s a great guy. I’m going to focus on that, ”White said of Winston, who played with the Buccaneers from 2015 to 2019.“ All last year when they were playing and we were playing he was texting – I didn’t. not sure if he was texting everyone, but he and I were close. When I walked in he kind of gave me a tour – and just told me how proud he was of me. Even when we won a Super Bowl, it was one of the first lines, like “Congratulations, man. I wish I could be a part of it, but you all deserve it. You’ve put a lot of work into it and we’ve always talked about how special you all could be.
“He’s a great guy. You hate to see this happen. Hope it’s okay, man. I just pray for him. But it’s a long season. [I] hope he can come back and fight with his team. “