Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
After a couple of weeks spent in grueling heat, the 2023 New Orleans Saints cooled off while warming up for the real deal in their preseason opener Sunday afternoon at Caesars Superdome.
There were many sidebars, with Tyrann Mathieu facing his former team as well as Khalen Saunders. Derek Carr was facing a team he previously faced twice a year while with the Raiders.
First impressions were quite good in the first half.
The second and third acts left something to be desired. The fourth and final act was a welcome sight, a thing of beauty for Dennis Allen and Saints fans that resulted in a win.
Those big plays were delivered by Kyle Phillips and Blake Grupe, a duo that most likely will not be on the opening day roster in a few weeks.
Welcome to preseason football!
Here are my Quick Takes from the 26-24 win by the Saints over the Chiefs:
**Among those who did not play due to injury were Demario Davis (calf), Jesse James (groin), Lucas Krull (tailbone), Kirk Merritt (hamstring), Andrus Peat (quad), Rasheed Shaheed (groin), Tre’Quan Smith (groin) and Landon Young (MCL). Newly acquired linebacker Jaylon Smith did not play but should see time next week next week at Los Angeles against the Chargers.
**With Shaheed sidelined, Lynn Bowden Jr. was in the deep position on the opening kickoff.
**On the opening kickoff, D’Marco Jackson was flagged for holding.**The Saints also overcame a false start penalty on Trevor Penning on the opening drive, which was a thing of beauty.
**In his first series in the black and gold, Carr drove the Saints 85 yards in 12 plays, taking 5:24 off the clock, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood to give New Orleans a 7-0 lead with 9:36 to play in the first quarter.
**Carr was 6 of 8 for 70 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive, including a pair of completions to Juwan Johnson for 29 yards, a pair of completions to Alvin Kamara for 21 yards and a 13-yard completion to Michael Thomas.
**The Saints should and will likely make a concerted effort to get Kamara more involved in the passing game early and often this season, when he becomes eligible in the regular season.
**It was the only series Carr played.
**Jackson made a big hit on the ensuing kickoff, helping his case.
**On their first series, the Chiefs made one first down and had a fourth-and-one at their own 48-yard like. Patrick Mahomes lined up in shotgun, ran a trick play on a short snap to tithe end Blake Bell, and he was stuffed for no gain as the Saints got a nice stop. Pete Werner and Zach Baun were credited with the stop while Khalen Saunders and Nate Shepherd held their grown well and were there as well.
**Jameis Winston took over on the second series at the Kansas City 48-yard line.
**It did not take long for the lead to grow to 14-0 as Winston drove the Saints 48 yards in four plays, hitting rookie A.T. Perry with a 29-yard touchdown pass. It was an excellent throw.
** Perry used his size to gather it, reached out for the goal line after possessing the ball for two steps, crossed the line with the ball and correctly was credited with the touchdown with 4:59 to play in the opening quarter.
**Marcus Maye broke up a third down pass attempt by Blaine Gabbert on the second offensive series of the game for the Chiefs.
**The Saints finished the first quarter with 170 yards to just 31 for the Chiefs. New Orleans had 10 first downs in the quarter, moving the ball at will.
**New Orleans increased its lead to 17-0 with 13:45 to play in the first half on a 36-yard field goal by Wil Lutz, capping a nine play, 40-yard drive in 4:33.
**The drive was stalled by a holding infraction against Max Garcia.
**Jimmy Graham made a catch for 10 yards, drawing a huge applause from the crowd.
**Peyton Turner got pressure up the middle on Gabbert, hitting him as he released the ball and Lonnie Johnson broke up a pass attempt, forcing a punt on the next Kansas City offensive series.
**Blake Gillikin shanked a very poor 22-yard punt, giving Kansas City the ball at midfield with 10:07 to play in the second quarter.
**Gabbert connected with Richie James on a 43-yard-deep ball as James whipped Alontae Taylor, reaching the New Orleans 12-yard line.
**That set up a 1-yard touchdown pass to James, who was uncovered on a blown coverage, as the Saints bit on a play-fake, and it was 17-7 with 8:26 to play in the half. The drive covered 50 yards in four plays, taking 1:41 off the clock.
**The next New Orleans drive was stopped by a holding call on Nick Saldiveri and a sack of Winston.
**Safety Ugo Amadi came up with an interception of Shane Buechele on a ball tipped by Taylor at the Kansas City 38-yard line.
**It led to nothing as Winston was sacked and pressured again on an incomplete pass, forcing a punt.
**Gilliken punted beautifully to the 5-yard line, caught and downed by Kawaan Baker.
**Carr and Winston finished the half 17 of 21 for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Perry had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
**Outside of one series, the defense performed well and kick coverage teams were solid.
**The Saints had the ball for 21:38 to just 8:22 for Kansas City in the first half.
**Tulane’s Nick Anderson made the tackle on the second half kickoff.
**Zach Baun sacked Buechele to force a Kansas City punt.
**Kendre Miller limped off in the third quarter with an issue to his left foot or ankle, it appeared.
**Graham was flagged for holding, negating a good run by Ellis Merriweather.
**Haener made a questionable decision, trying to throw outside the numbers to James Washington and Kahlef Hailassie picked it off, returning it to the Kansas City 46-yard line. Washington kept going on the route and Haener threw to the sideline. Haener was clearly throwing to the back shoulder of Washington but the receiver kept going in vertical fashion.
**The Chiefs capitalized, driving 54 yards in five plays to cut the deficit to 17-14 with 6:02 to play in the third quarter as Buechele connected with Justyn Ross on a 15-yard touchdown pass against zone coverage.
**Kansas City took its first lead on the final play of the third quarter on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Buechele to Kekda Crawford. Buechele was able to evade a pair of pass rushers, extending the play and allowing Crawford to uncover. The drive covered 78 yards in nine plays, taking 3:40 off the clock.
**Ty Summers came up with a sack in the fourth quarter. He tipped another pass on the same series but it ended up complete for a first down.
**Chris Oladokun ran a quarterback draw which went for 30 yards to the New Orleans 24-yard line.
**That set up a 36-yard field goal by Harrison Butker to give the Chiefs a 24-17 lead with 6:17 to play in the game. The drive covered 72 yards in 13 plays and took 5:58 off the clock.
**Shaq Davis made a nice leaping catch from Haener late in the game, covering 18 yards. A roughing the passer call on the play put the ball at the Kansas City 43-yard line. Haener then hit Ellis Merriweather for 15 yards to the 15-yard line. Reese Taylor then committed pass interference on Davis in the end zone, giving the Saints a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.
**Haener followed with a bootleg right, 2-yard touchdown pass to Merriweather, making it 24-23 with 1:20 to play in the game, capping a six play, 76-yard drive.
**You NEVER play for ties in the preseason so Dennis Allen went for two and the win. On the play, Haener appeared to try to step up and make a line call and the ball was snapped prematurely. It appeared by be Alex Philstrom and it went haywire. Haener did not handle it and the try failed.
**Phillips then came up with a huge play, intercepting Oladokun on a pass intended for La’Mical Perine, giving the Saints the ball at the Kansas City 22-yard line with 58 seconds to play in the game.
**That set up Grupe for a 31-yard field goal on the final play of the game.
The clear winners for the Saints were Carr, Winston and Perry on offense. Baun handled himself well on defense. Kick and punt coverage was solid. New Orleans starters performed well on both sides of the ball.
There were too many holding penalties on the Saints, something to correct.
This week, we will get a clearer picture of what this team is and can be when the Saints head west to practice with the Chargers before squaring off with them next Sunday in preseason game number two.
Having covered my first training camp back in 1980 in Vero Beach, my messaging remains the same as it has for several years. Do not put too much stock in what you read and watch at training camp. It is about games and live competition against opponents, not about practice. There was ample evidence of overestimating and undervaluing players at camp heading into the game.
Haener struggled a bit but had a very nice drive to cap his first performance, resulting in a touchdown. Haener finished 10 of 17 for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Haener may be a solid keeper but it is a quantum leap from Fresno State to the NFL and it will take time for him to become comfortable and develop. Do not judge him on one preseason game, just as we have not judged him on practice. He deserves time and could and should improve.
A couple of defensive backs who have drawn praise throughout camp were not very good.
Credit the Saints for making plays when needed.
The overall feeling is take the good with the bad and move on to getting better this week. Of course, that is an obvious take after preseason game number one annually. Winning, on any occasion, is the goal and it is nice to have a win.
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Al Dupuy
So much for all the talk about the Saints trading up to get a quarterback.Although they did move up to No. 11 overall from the No.16 spot, New Orleans made the deal to secure the wide receiver I hoped they would draft.
Chris Olave (6-1, 189) Ohio State
with 4.39 speed and polished skills, he was my second rated receiver behind Garrett Wilson, another Buckeyes wideout who went right before him at No. 10 overall. Olave, athletic and agile is an elite route runner with a quick release off the line. He’s the best route runner in this draft. Olave also has consistent hands and, although it is not his strenght, he will fight for contested balls. His conssitently flashed deep speed from his freshman season to make the big play.
Saints coach Dennis Allen said after the draft that Olave was their top rated receiver so it made sense that they moved up to secure a real need. New Orleans did have to give up picks in rounds three (98th overall) and four (120th overall) in this draft to get their man.
Trevor Penning (6-7, 325) Northern Iowa
With the 19th pick, the Saints filled another need by picking the huge offensive tackle out of the FCS. Penning has a massive frame with great arm length but he also uses his size. He’s no gentle giant. Penning is imposing with a mean and nasty streak. An athletic big man who is very strong, he is a power blocker who can dominate lighter defenders. Penning played left tackle mostly at UNI but did play one game at right tackle in 2021.
Allen said he is what the Saints look for in an offensive lineman. It’s clear Penning will be given every opportunity to be Terron Armstead’s immediate replacement at left tackle.
These are the two players I projected the Saints to take in round one in my final CCS Mock Draft but I didn’t think they would have to trade up to get Olave. The Saints either wisely sensed a run of receiver picks after Wilson or helped to start one in the first 20 selections in which six were wideouts.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: CCS Staff
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been chosen as the new head coach of the New Orleans Saints, as ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter first reported Monday.
The 49-year old Allen will succeed Sean Payton in a move many observers expected as the most likely outcome when the latter stepped down from the job. Allen has been on Payton’s staff since 2015. In his only previous stint as an NFL head coach, Allen went 8-28 with the then-Oakland Raiders from 2012-2014.
The Saints reportedly interviewed former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
Eric Bieniemy, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator (and former Saints secondary coach) Aaron Glenn, Saints special teams coach Darren Rizzi and former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson along with Allen after Payton left the team January 25.
DENNIS ALLEN NAMED HEAD COACH OF THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
For Immediate Release: February 8, 2022
Dennis Allen has been named head coach of the New Orleans Saints, the club announced today. Allen, who has served as New Orleans’ defensive coordinator since 2015, becomes the 17th head coach in the history of the franchise.
“Dennis has a deep understanding for the culture of our organization and our football team,” said Saints Owner Gayle Benson. “That combined with the character, integrity and leadership skills that he possesses makes him the right head coach for the New Orleans Saints. Having been here for 12 years as a member of our coaching staff, he firsthand knows what it takes to achieve success, sustain it and continue to build. Dennis is a quality coach and individual and the right person to help us build on the solid foundation that has already been established here.”
“I saw in Dennis throughout this comprehensive interview process the same things I have seen in 12 years with him in this organization as an assistant coach,” said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. “Dennis is smart and organized and his values and personality fit the culture of the New Orleans Saints. The position groups he has coached and the defensive unit he has run have reflected this. Our philosophies on football and our vision for building on what we have with the Saints align in every way with our organization and I am excited to see what Dennis will accomplish in leading our football team.”
A coaching veteran of 26 seasons, including the last 20 in the National Football League, Allen has been a member of the New Orleans coaching staff for 12 seasons, first from 2006-10, returning in 2015. During his tenure as an assistant under Sean Payton in New Orleans, Allen has been part of staffs that have qualified for the playoffs seven times, captured the NFC South division title six times, reached the NFC Championship game three times and won the Super Bowl XLIV Championship. This is also Allen’s second tenure as a head coach, having served in that role for the Oakland Raiders from 2012-14.
Allen’s defenses have ranked in the top 10 in yards per game and in the top five in opponent points per game each of the past two seasons. During his 16 seasons coaching a position, serving as a defensive coordinator and as a head coach, he has coached 10 players to a total of 21 Pro Bowl selections.
In 2021, Allen’s defensive unit boasted two Pro Bowl selections (defensive end Cameron Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore) and one Associated Press All-Pro selection (linebacker Demario Davis). The Saints defense finished ranked first in the NFL in opponent red zone touchdown percentage (43.5), second in opponent first downs (304) and opponent rushing first downs (84), third in touchdown passes (20), fourth in opponent scoring (19.7 points per game), opponent net yards per play (5.08) and against the run (93.5 yards per game), seventh in total defense (318.2 net yards per game) and eighth in sacks (46) and opponent third down efficiency (37.1 pct.). New Orleans’ current streak of 22 regular/season postseason contests without allowing a 100-yard rusher is the longest in the NFL. With 25 takeaways and a plus-seven turnover ratio, Allen’s defense played an instrumental role in leading the Saints to their fifth straight winning season. Allen handled Payton’s duties in a December 19 9-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Payton sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols.
In 2020, the Saints defense boasted one of the league’s top units, finishing tied for first in interceptions (18), ranked fourth in opponent net yards per game (310.9) and opponent rushing yards per game (91.3), fifth in opponent net passing yards per game (217.0) and opponent points per game (21.1) and eighth in sacks (45). The 139 road points given up on the road by New Orleans were the fewest in the NFL and the third-lowest total by the club since the start of a 16-game regular season schedule in 1978. New Orleans did not allow a 100-yard rusher until Week 14 of the season, marking an NFL record of 55 games (regular season/postseason combined) of not giving up 100 yards to an individual.
The 2019 Saints ranked third in the league in sacks, recording 51 takedowns and finished fourth in run defense at 91.3 yards rushing per game. The sack total was the highest for the Saints since 2001. The 2019 Saints also ranked sixth on third down (34.8 percent) and 11th in total defense (333.1 yards per game). The Saints had two contests where they did not surrender a defensive touchdown for the first time since 2000. Jordan finished with a career-high 15.5 sacks, ranked third in the NFL and tied for the fourth-highest total in franchise history, also earning All-Pro honors. Davis filled up the stat sheet with a team-high 111 tackles, four sacks, one interception and a career-high 12 passes defensed.
In 2018, the Saints boasted the second-best run defense in the NFL, allowing just 80.2 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry. Allen’s defense also collared 49 sacks, which tied for fifth in the league. The New Orleans defense held its opponents to 20 points or less in ten games and had a six-game streak of keeping opponents under 20 for the first time since 2000. Jordan was selected to the Pro Bowl as an AP All-Pro in a season where he posted 12 sacks. Davis, in his first season with the club after signing as an unrestricted free agent, became only the fourth Saint to record 110 tackles and five sacks in a single season. Lattimore led the team with five regular season takeaways and added two more in the NFC Divisional Playoff win over Philadelphia.
In 2017, Allen coordinated a Saints defense that finished third in the league in interceptions (20), tied for seventh in sacks (42) and ranked tenth in opponent points per game (20.4 ppg.) after ranking 31st in 2016. Away from home, New Orleans surrendered only 18.3 points per game, tied for sixth in the NFL, with their 146 road points given up tied for the sixth-lowest total by the club since the start of a 16-game schedule in 1978. Allen oversaw a defense that featured first-team All-Pro Jordan who posted 13 sacks and Lattimore, who led NFL rookies with five interceptions and garnered Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, as both defenders earned Pro Bowl trips. Lattimore was the second rookie under Allen’s tutelage to capture league Rookie of the Year honors.
In 2016, a young Saints defensive unit took several strides in the right direction, surrendering only 90.6 rushing yards per game over the final 13 weeks of the season, ranked sixth in the NFL over that period. In fact, New Orleans allowed under 100 yards rushing in eight games on the season.
After starting the 2015 season as the club’s senior defensive assistant, Allen assumed coordinator duties in Week 11. As New Orleans rallied to win three of their final four contests, Allen’s unit contributed to finishing strong as the defense surrendered 35.1 total net yards per game below the overall season average, including 25.1 fewer yards per game in stopping the run. New Orleans also held opponents to a season-low 17 points in two of the final four contests. Jordan was selected to his second Pro Bowl, as he recorded double-digit sacks for the second time in his career.
Allen served as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2012-14. In his second season, he guided a team that made significant improvement in several areas on offense, defense and special teams. Offensively, the Raiders ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing, improving 16 spots in league rankings from 2012 and sixth in yards per rush (4.6), improving 21 places in league rankings despite starting an NFL-high eight offensive line combinations due to injury. The defense replaced nine starters, yet improved in several categories. The defense recorded 38 sacks, 13 more than 2012, and tied for second in the NFL with 15 players getting to the quarterback. The rush defense improved five spots from 18th in the NFL in 2012 to 13th in 2013, as it limited opposing offenses to just five runs of 20-or-more yards, tied for the fewest in the league, and kept opponents to less than two yards per carry three times. On special teams, the Raiders moved from the NFL’s bottom-third to first overall in opponent gross punting (41.7), ranked third in opponent net punting (37.0) and fourth in opponent kickoff returns (20.4).
In 2011, Allen served as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He led a defense that helped the Broncos win the AFC West division title and advance to the AFC Divisional round with a Wild Card game victory. The Broncos improved 12 spots over the previous year in overall defensive ranking and bettered their points allowed eight spots. The defense produced four Pro Bowl selections as rookie linebacker Von Miller joined cornerback Champ Bailey, safety Brian Dawkins and defensive end Elvis Dumervil on the AFC squad. Miller set what was the team’s rookie record with 11.5 sacks en route to AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Broncos’ 41 quarterback takedowns marked the unit’s most since 2000.
During Allen’s previous five-year tenure in New Orleans, he first served as assistant defensive line coach (2006-07) before being promoted to secondary coach (2008-10).
He was a part of a defensive coaching staff that engineered significant improvement from 2009-10, when the club went 24-8 in the regular season, qualified for the playoffs both times and captured Super Bowl XLIV. Under Allen’s direction in 2010, the Saints allowed an NFL-low 13 touchdown passes, while New Orleans ranked fourth in both opponent net yards per game (306.3) and pass defense (193.9 ypg.) and fifth in opponent third down efficiency (34.5 pct.). Safety Roman Harper was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, posting 100 tackles and three sacks, and cornerback Jabari Greer recorded two interceptions with one brought back for a touchdown.
In 2009, Allen tutored a secondary that played a key role in helping the Saints to the club’s first Super Bowl victory. A revamped unit accounted for an NFL-high five interception returns for touchdowns and totaled 21 picks with two of the four starters being selected to the Pro Bowl. Opposing quarterbacks managed a 68.6 passer rating, ranked third in the NFL. Greer returned one pick for a touchdown. Harper led the unit with a career-high 127 tackles and added 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles while being selected to his first Pro Bowl. Cornerback Tracy Porter picked off Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter in consecutive postseason contests, with his famous Super Bowl XLIV interception being brought back for a touchdown.
While serving as assistant defensive line coach from 2006-07, Allen helped develop a unit that ranked as one of the defense’s strengths. During that stretch, the front four combined for 49.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 10 recoveries. Defensive end Will Smith was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2006, posting a club-best 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Allen joined the Saints after a four-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons, where he spent his final two years as defensive assistant/quality control with an emphasis on working with the defensive line. Over the previous two seasons, he was in charge of defensive quality control while helping tutor the secondary, beginning his NFL coaching career under Head Coach Dan Reeves.
Allen worked as the secondary coach for the University of Tulsa (2000-01) before heading to the NFL. Prior to his stint at Tulsa, Allen was on the coaching staff for four years (1996-99) at his alma mater, Texas A&M, as a graduate assistant working primarily with the school’s secondary.
A native of Hurst, Texas, Allen earned four letters for Texas A&M as a safety from 1992-95 and started the final 21 games of his career. A highlight was his fourth-quarter interception that clinched an 18-9 victory over Texas in 1993, sending the Aggies to their third-straight Cotton Bowl. He collected Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors after intercepting two passes in a 36-14 win over Oklahoma in 1994.
Allen was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills and competed in their training camp in 1996. Allen’s late father, Grady, played at Texas A&M and was a linebacker for the Falcons from 1968-72. Allen and his wife Alisson have a daughter, Layla and a son, Garrison.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: CCS Staff
After coaching run that brought the New Orleans Saints to their greatest heights, Sean Payton has decided to retire after 15 years as head coach.
Multiple outlets reported via sources on the 58-year old’s decision Tuesday.
Sean Payton is retiring, per source
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) January 25, 2022
Sources: Sean Payton has informed the #Saints that he’s stepping away.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 25, 2022
The Saints are expected to hold a 3 p.m. press conference where Payton is expected to make his plans official.
The 58-year old Payton has compiled a 158-89 regular season record (.631) with a 9-8 postseason mark with New Orleans since taking the job in 2006. He led the Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
You knew it would not be pretty. Style points have long since disappeared from the scene for 2021 New Orleans Saints, particularly on offense.
For the 2021 Saints to win, they must play solid defense, win the turnover battle and win the kicking game.
New Orleans did all three Sunday and emerged victorious against Carolina to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Here are my Quick Takes from the 18-10 victory for the Saints over the Panthers:
**Despite coming off the COVID-19/Reserve list Saturday, Erik McCoy and Marcus Williams were declared out for the game.
**Malcolm Roach was activated to the practice squad from the Reserve/Covid-19 list while Nick Vannett was placed on the list.
**Kawan Baker, Bryce Thompson, Will Clapp and lineman Forrest Lamp were elevated from the practice squad for the game.
**Inactives for the Saints were Terron Armstead, Ian Book, Mark Ingram, Erik McCoy, Bradley Roby, Tre’Quan Smith and Marcus Williams
**In all, the Saints were without three players due to Covid issues while the Panthers were without five players due to the virus protocols.
**Carolina took the opening kickoff and drove 12 plays, 61 yards, taking 6:55 off the clock with Lirim Hajrullahu kicking a 32-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 8:05 to play in the opening quarter.
**Sam Darnold got off to a very good start, throwing quick passes with success, going 5-of-5 of 51 yards on the scoring drive.
**Will Clapp started at center while Jordan Mills returned at right tackle with James Hurst at left tackle. Calvin Throckmorton and Cesar Ruiz were the guards.
**The Saints responded with an eight play, 52-yard drive, taking 3:56 off the clock with Brett Maher tying the game at 3-3 with a 41-yard field goal with 4:05 to play in the opening quarter.
**On the drive, Taysom Hill was 3-of-4 for 50 yards, all to Alvin Kamara. Marquez Callaway dropped a perfect pass which hit him right in the chest which helped stall the drive.
**With Marcus Williams out, Jeff Heath stepped in and had to play many snaps at safety.
**P.J. Williams was hurt early in the second quarter but was able to walk off the field and returned.
**Carolina recaptured a 10-3 lead, driving 81 yards in 10 plays, taking 5:51 off the clock with Chuba Hubbard racing 21 yards for a touchdown with 13:21 to play in the half. Heath missed a tackle on him at about the 5-yard line.
**Darnold completed his first nine passes for 88 yards.
**The defense finally awakened as P.J. Williams came up big on a blitz, sacking Darnold, forcing a fumble and Marcus Davenport recovered at the Carolina 13-yard line.
**Unfortunately, the Saints did nothing with the turnover, gaining four yards on three plays and Maher kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 10-6 with 8:41 to play in the half.
**Williams then went down hurt again.
**Cam Jordan had two sacks in the first half to him 10 on the season, the sixth time he has recorded 10 or more sacks in his brilliant career. Remember when everyone was questioning whether Hill was done earlier this season?
**Kamara went over 200 rushes on the season in the first half, his career high.
**Pinned back at his own 4-yard line, Hill engineered a very nice drive to produce points just prior to halftime as the Saints went 73 yards in 10 plays with Maher kicking a 41-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it 10-9 at the half.
**Hill played well in the first half, completing 11-of-17 passes for 166 yards with two drops and he spiked a pair of throws to kill the clock.
**That was the whole offense as the Saints lost four yards rushing on 10 attempts in the half.
**That left the Saints without a touchdown in 10 consecutive quarters entering the second half.
**New Orleans had a nice opening drive to start the second half as Hill hit Callaway twice for 18 yards total, Hill ran for nine yards and Hill hit Harris for 14 yards.
**Then, under heavy pressure, Hill was flagged for intentional grounding and that forced a punt after a challenge by Carolina coach Matt Rhule, which changed the line-of-scrimmage from the Carolina 36 to the Carolina 39-yard line and Sean Payton changed his mind from a field goal attempt to a punt.
**New Orleans finally took advantage of a short field and Maher kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Saints a 12-10 lead with 2:07 to play in the third quarter. The field goal was set up by runs of six and 14 yards by Hill.
**Carolina answered with a nice drive, reaching the New Orleans 29-yard line but Hajrullahu missed a 47-yard field goal attempt wide right with 12:04 to play in the game.
**Hill then executed an excellent drive and the Saints finally scored a touchdown for the first time in 12 quarters as he connected with Kamara on a 12-yard touchdown pass to make it 18-10 with 7:49 to play in the game.
**It was the first touchdown since a fourth quarter score in a win over the Jets on Dec. 12.
**Unfortunately, Maher missed the extra point, keeping it a one-possession game.
**On the touchdown drive, Kamara had a 30-yard run.
**The Saints got their fifth sack of the game to stall the next drive for Carolina as Jordan split it with Kwon Alexander.
**CJ Gardner-Johnson came up with the sixth sack and then Jordan came up with the seventh sack of the game on Carolina’s final possession.
**Then, Gardner-Johnson ended it by picking off a poor throw by Darnold to seal the victory. It was the third interception of the season for Gardner-Johnson.
Jordan was brilliant with 3.5 sacks. Not too long ago, many were questioning if he was approaching the end of his career.
Gardner-Johnson continued his outstanding season.
Along with Marshon Lattimore and Demario Davis, the foursome has been simply outstanding. Marcus Williams has been good as well this season while Alexander has been solid. The defense, overall, has been good.
The offense is not good but it was just good enough to beat a bad Carolina team.
Let us make sure we put this in perspective.
The Saints are back to .500 with one game to play, an indication of what kind of team they are.
They beat a bad team which has now lost six straight games.
They kept their playoff hopes alive and need a win at Atlanta and a loss by San Francisco to the Rams to sneak into the postseason next week.
Hill did not see the field very well on a couple of plays where receivers were open and he did not throw to them but overall, he gets a passing grade.
Hill completed 17-of-28 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown with four dropped passes. Two other incomplete passes were on balls that he spiked to stop the clock late in the first half. Hill also rushed 12 times for 45 yards.
Most importantly, Hill did not commit a turnover.
Despite having nowhere to run, outside of one play, Kamara still accounted for 100 yards from scrimmage, including 68 yards receiving on five receptions.
Callaway had six catches for 97 yards despite three drops.
Jordan was a beast with eight tackles, including three for loss and 3 ½ sacks. Alexander had eight tackles with a half sack.
The Saints were missing both a week ago against Miami.
The kicking game was good, outside of the missed extra point by Maher which would have put the game away.
These Saints have little room for error but its defense was simply outstanding after the first two possession of the game for the Panthers.
On the first two drives, Carolina gained 142 yards and scored 10 points.
On its final nine possessions, the Panthers totaled 36 yards and scored no points.
Based on the rivalry, you know the Falcons will be hell-bent to ruin the season for the Saints next Sunday.
Still, the fact that the Saints have a shot at making the expanded playoffs going into the final week of the season, given a ton of injuries, Covid issues and its first season without Drew Brees can only be construed as a positive development.
It would become a positive season if, in fact, the Saints win next week to both have a winning season and earn a playoff berth.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of: Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
To call the New Orleans Saints a MASH unit on Monday night would be accurate, if not an understatement.
New Orleans was without Kwon Alexander, James Carpenter, Demario Davis, Kaden Elliss, Carl Granderson, J.T. Gray, Jeff Heath, Jaylyn Holmes, Taysom Hill, Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Mills, Ryan Ramczyk, Christian Ringo, Trevor Siemian, Adam Trautman and Dwayne Washington due to COVID-19 issues. Additionally, Terron Armstead was inactive with his knee injury.
Then, there were three coaches out as well.
Without 17 players, the Saints went into battle as an underdog, at home, against the Miami Dolphins.
Expectations outside of the locker room were subdued, and why not? Perhaps they were inside the walls as well, though we will never know that.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since 2017, when the Saints blanked the Dolphins 20-0 in London.
New Orleans had to start Caleb Benenoch at right tackle, opposite James Hurst at left tackle with both Armstead and Ramczyk out again, along with Jordan Mills. That was a very bad indication of what was to come.
Things could not have started worse for rookie Ian Book in his first NFL start. They never got any better for Book or the Saints.
Here are my Quick Takes from the 20-3 loss to Miami:
**On the third offensive play from scrimmage, Book threw in the flat for Lil’Jordan Humphrey, the pass was tipped by Andrew Van Ginkel, and Nik Needham picked it off and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to give Miami a 7-0 lead with 10:25 to play in the opening quarter.
**On the second offensive series, Nick Vannett dropped an easy catch to help kill the drive before Book was sacked on third down by Christian Wilkins, forcing a punt.
**Miami increased the lead to 10-0 on a 48-yard field goal by Jason Sanders with 2:09 to play in the opening quarter.
**New Orleans had a chance to end the drive without points on a sack by Marcus Davenport, resulting in the fumble by Tua Tagovailoa but Braxton Hoyett, who had a chance to recover the fumble, failed to do so and the Dolphins kept possession and kicked the field goal.
**The Saints finished with minus two yards in the first quarter.
**The Saints finally got a drive going in the second quarter, going 55 yards in eight plays with Brett Maher kicking a 38-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3 with 2:45 to play in the half.
**On the drive, Book completed a pair of passes for 23 yards and he was roughed completing the second one, a 12-yard completion to Alvin Kamara, resulting in a 15-yard penalty to help set up the field goal.
**Miami appeared to benefit from a call that went against the Saints prior to halftime on a 13-yard completion from Tagovailoa to Durham Smythe. The play was reviewed and the review took forever, or so it seemed, and the call was upheld despite replay in the stadium showing the ball clearly moving and apparently touching the ground.
**Cam Jordan then got a big sack, his second sack of the game, his eighth of the season, putting the ball at the New Orleans 41-yard line.
**Sanders then missed a field goal just wide right to end the half at 10-3.
**The Saints ran just 20 plays in the half for 67 yards.
**Marshon Lattimore came up with an interception of a bad throw by Tagovailoa, intended for Mike Gesicki, giving the Saints their best field position of the game at their own 36-yard line.
**Tre’Quan Smith went down in the first half with a chest injury and did not return.
**The Saints failed to do anything with the turnover and the dam finally broke as Miami drove 86 yards in nine plays, taking 4:30 off the clock with Tagovailoa hitting Jaylen Waddle with a 1-yard shovel pass for a touchdown to make it 17-3 with 5:10 to play in the third quarter.
**In desperation, the Saints opted to go for it on fourth-and-one from their own 38-yard line. The call was interesting, a roll-out right for Book, who had absolutely no one open and threw the ball away.
**Miami capitalized with a 34-yard field goal by Sanders to make it 20-3 with 12:05 to play in the game and that was it.
**Book had one brief moment to enjoy with a 56-yard completion to Humphrey late in the game but a few plays later, Book was picked off by Brandon Jones on a ball thrown right to him.
**New Orleans finished with just 158 yards of offense, including the big play to Humphrey.
**The Saints were 0-for-12 on third-down conversion attempts, the first time under Payton New Orleans has failed to convert on third down.
**Ironically, the last time the Saints failed to convert a third-down attempt was against the Nick Saban-coached Dolphins in 2005 in Baton Rouge in a 21-6 loss on Oct. 30 of that year, the Hurricane Katrina displacement season.
**For the second straight week, the Saints were held to single-digit scoring. The last time that happened was in 1997, Mike Ditka’s first season, when New Orleans was blanked in consecutive games, 13-0 to Carolina and 23-0 to San Francisco. Amazingly, the Saints won one of these two games this season, thanks to its defense and to its kicking game.
**Book finished 12-of-20 for 135 yards with two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 40.6.
With all due respect to those who said the Saints had a chance to win or would win this game, what could you have been thinking?
This 2021 New Orleans offense has been limited from the get-go with Jameis Winston and very limited without him. Without offensive linemen, without effective receivers outside of Marquez Callaway and with a fourth-string quarterback, what else could you have expected?
What we saw is exactly what you would expect from a team missing 17 players and three coaches.
It was too much, make that way too much to overcome.
As for Book, he really had no chance.
Of course, he made some shaky decisions and ate the ball a few too many times when he could have thrown it away but he was getting demolished because his offensive line was getting demolished, led by Benenoch, who was woefully inadequate and overmatched from the start. Book was sacked eight times and the Saints finished with just 164 yards of offense.
Book was supposed to sit, watch and learn in a virtual “redshirt” year but did not get that luxury. Taysom Hill and Winston should be happy they did not have to play behind this offensive line on this night.
For what it is worth, an interesting sidebar is that this was was the 24th straight loss by a Notre Dame quarterback starting in the NFL, the longest losing streak by any such school since 1950. The last Notre Dame quarterback to start and win was Brady Quinn in 2012.
Payton is an outstanding offensive coach and mind. That is not debatable.
Regardless of how sharp you are, if you do not have the players, you are not going to succeed.
There will have to be a heavy emphasis on restocking a barren offense in the offseason but first, there are a pair of games still to play.
With two division games remaining, the Saints no longer control their own destiny in terms of trying to make the playoffs.
Right about now, Payton is simply counting the days until he can get some key players back to give his team a chance to win a game.
Incidentally, the once vaunted home field advantage in the Dome is nowhere to be found. The Saints are now a dismal 1-5 in the building this season, having also won a “home” game at Jacksonville.
That win seems like a long, long time ago, watching the team wearing black-and-gold on this night. Quite a few of the players wearing the colors on this night have no business doing so in the near future.
The MASH unit got mashed.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
The streak is over.
The New Orleans Saints had lost five straight games for the first time since Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006.
The Saints were sporting the longest active losing streak in the NFL entering Sunday’s game in New Jersey against the New York Jets.
Against a bad team, the Saints showed they were not a bad team, were motivated and were not done.
The defense was very good, not allowing a touchdown.
The offense was efficient, running the ball well and making enough plays in the passing game and committed no turnovers. That will always bode well on the road.
The kicking game was solid, featuring the great coverage of J.T. Gray, the outstanding punting of Blake Gillikin and the solid place-kicking of Brett Maher.
Most of all, it was great having Alvin Kamara back.
After missing four weeks, the team’s best player showed just how valuable he is, accounting 145 yards and a touchdown, including 120 rushing on 27 carries and 25 yards receiving on four receptions.
Kamara posted his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and the fifth of his career. New Orleans rushed for 203 yards and you are not going to lose in the NFL when that occurs.
imply put, the Saints stepped down in class and handled the lesser opponent.
Here are my Quick Takes from the 30-9 win for the Saints over the Jets:
**C.J. Gardner-Johnson was activated from injured reserve and the Saints elevated guard James Carpenter, linebacker Chase Hansen, wide receivers Kevin White and Easop Winston and tight end Ethan Wolf from the practice squad.
**Cameron Jordan, Mark Ingram and Ty Montgomery all missed the game due to testing positive for COVID-19.
**New Orleans kicked off, forced a 3-and-out and drove 65 yards in 14 plays, taking 7:21 off the clock with Maher kicking a 23-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 6:37 to play in the opening quarter. Taysom Hill was 3-for-3 for 26 yards and he rushed four times for 20 yards on the drive.
**Hill was keeping the injured middle finger on his throwing hand in a hand warmer while not in the game.
**With Deonte Harris suspended, Winston returned punts for New Orleans.
**It was as bit of a milestone for the Saints, who had not scored a point in the first quarter in their previous five games.
**Hill tried to throw a screen pass on the first play of the second quarter and he lost the grip on it and fumbled, losing 21 yards.
**The Jets got good field position, as a result, and drove 38 yards in nine plays, taking 3:07 off the clock with Eddy Pineiro booting a 36-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 with 10:01 to play in the half.
**New Orleans recaptured the lead, driving 54 yards in six plays, taking 3:06 off the clock with Kamara breaking free on a 17-yard touchdown run to make it 10-3 with 3:42 to play in the half. Kamara accounted for 48 of the 54 yards on the drive.
**The Jets pulled closer, cutting the deficit to 10-6 at halftime on a 46-yard field goal by Pineiro on the final play of the half, capping a 10 play, 47-yard drive.
**The New Orleans defense forced four New York possessions which went 3-and-out in the first half.
**Kamara accounted for 95 of the 129 total yards for the Saints in the half. The Saints had the ball for 18:34 to just 11:26 for the Jets.
**New Orleans then drove 80 yards in 15 plays, taking 8:57 off the clock with Maher kicking a 31-yard field goal to increase the lead to 13-6 with 58 seconds to play in the third quarter. Hill was 6-of 7 for 65 yards on the drive.
**The Saints went up 16-6 with 12:22 to play in the game on a 37-yard field goal by Maher after a 31-yard drive in seven plays. It was set up by a 21-yard completion from Hill to Tre’Quan Smith.
**The Saints put the game away with a 51-yard drive in eight plays with Hill scoring on a 1-yard run to make it 23-6 with 5:28 to play in the game. On the play, fullback Adam Prentice and tight end Garrett Griffin had nice blocks.
**The big play of the drive was a 26-yard completion to Marquez Callaway, who broke two tackles to get to the 2-yard line.
**The Jets finally got on the board in the second half with a 36-yard field goal by Pineiro with 3:29 to play in the game to make it 23-9, completing a 53-yard drive in 10 plays.
**The Jets have now allowed 11 of 13 opponents to rush for at least 100 yards.
**Hill then put the cherry on top of the whipped cream with a 44-yard run on a straight sweep to the left side to make it 30-9 with 1:07 to play in the game. It was the longest run of Hill’s career. That capped a three play, 42-yard drive.
**The Jets have now allowed 30 points or more in six of their last eight games.
Playing with the damaged finger, Hill played a winning football game.
Hill completed 15-of-21 passes (71.4 percent) for 175 yards and he rushed 11 times for 73 yards and two scores. The two rushing touchdowns tied Hill’s career high.
While he was not flashy, Hill managed the game well, was accurate, made enough plays with his legs and did not turn the ball over. Against a team with a poor offense in New York, that was the proper tonic for a victory.
The Saints dominated time of possession at 38:52 to just 21:08 for the Jets. The Saints were only penalized four times, though one went for 31 yards for pass interference against Paulson Adebo.
At 6-7, the Saints are back in the playoff chase.
Now comes a huge step up in class as New Orleans heads to Tampa Bay for a rematch with the current Super Bowl champion next week. The Saints whipped the Bucs 36-27 in New Orleans on Halloween but that is when Jameis Winston was injured. That, along with a bundle of other injuries, sent New Orleans on a downward spiral and the 5-game losing streak.
Can the Saints, who beat the Bucs with Trevor Siemian playing much of the way in New Orleans, beat the Bucs at Tampa with Hill at quarterback? Will Jordan, Ingram, Montgomery and, hopefully, Ryan Ramczyk return?
The Saints will certainly need all hands (and legs) on deck if they want to beat the Bucs for a fourth time in five tries with Tom Brady at quarterback.
By running the ball well, taking care of the ball, playing solid defense and having a sound kicking game, the Saints would have a chance. Now, it is time to replicate that formula.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
It was a special night in Caesars Superdome.
First, it was a primetime Thanksgiving home game.
Then, the New Orleans Saints were honoring the greatest player in franchise history.
That turned out to be the highlight of the night, though the network (NBC) for which Drew Brees was working and calling the game, chose not to carry the halftime ceremony. It’s a curious decision at best.
That was a good indication of how this night went for the Saints.
It was a day to give thanks, in this city, in this state, country and in the world.
It was a night to give thanks that this game ended, mercifully.
If you are a Saints fan, it was very difficult to watch.
Taysom Hill was listed as full go on the New Orleans injury report Tuesday and Wednesday. Clearly, he was not full go. He did not go anywhere but to the bench throughout the game.
For the second straight week, Hill, who just got a new contract, was active and never set foot on the field, taking a roster spot. Clearly, the Saints are more comfortable with a not-healthy Hill as the backup quarterback as compared to rookie Ian Book.
It is obvious that the Saints were simply overmatched and will continue to be overmatched until some key players can return from injury, if and when that occurs.
Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Alex Armah, Michael Thomas, Ryan Ramczyk, Jameis Winston, Adam Trautman, Hill, C.J. Gardner Johnson, Marcus Davenport, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Wil Lutz were all out, as you know.
The outcome was never in doubt.
Here are my Quick Takes from the 31-6 win for the Bills over the Saints:
**Tony Jones Jr. started at running back with Adam Prentice getting the start and in on the first snap at fullback.
**The Saints went 3-and-out and Buffalo promptly drove 65 yards in 10 plays, taking 5:54 off the clock with Josh Allen hitting Dawson Knox on a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Bills a 7-0 lead with 7:09 to play in the opening quarter.
**On the drive, the Saints missed a slew of tackles.
**With the first quarter ending at 7-0, it marked the seventh time in 11 games that the once potent New Orleans offense has gone scoreless in the first quarter this season. It is the fourth straight scoreless first quarter for the Saints
**New Orleans mounted what at least resembled a bit of a drive early in the second quarter and on fourth-and-two from the Buffalo 41, Sean Payton elected to go for it. A handoff to Jones resulted in a 5-yard loss, turning the ball over on downs.
**With a short field, Buffalo was able to add to the lead, driving 38 yards in seven plays, taking 3:56 off the clock with Tyler Bass converting a 34-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 8:46 to play in the half.
**The big play of the drive was a 26-yard pass to Gabriel Davis for a first down as he was wide open on a play-action pass from Allen.
**New Orleans finally came up with a big play when Bradley Roby intercepted a Josh Allen pass, intended for Stefon Diggs at the New Orleans 49-yard line with 3:13 to play in the half.
**It did not matter. The Saints offense did absolutely nothing and had to punt, or at least, it appeared that way.
**On fourth-and-eight at the Buffalo 49-yard line, Payton called for a fake and Blake Gillikin threw in the left flat for Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who was blanketed on the play. It did not matter as the pass was nowhere near him and Buffalo took over with tremendous field position with 1:47 to play in the half.
**Buffalo reached the New Orleans 6-yard line with a chance to add to the lead prior to halftime but Cam Jordan hit Allen’s arm and Kwon Alexander made a diving interception to keep the Saints in the game.
**It was the third time this season that New Orleans was shutout in the first half. The Saints had just 64 yards of offense in the half.
**The Bills had the ball for 17:58 in the half to just 12:02 for the Saints.
**The Saints have now scored a total of 13 points in the four starts Trevor Siemian has made.
**The Bills took the second half kickoff and erased any doubt about the outcome, driving 75 yards in 11 plays, taking 6:12 off the clock with Allen hitting Stefon Diggs on a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-0 with 8:48 to play in the third quarter.
**After getting a stop, Buffalo then added to the lead, driving 53 yards in five plays, taking 2:51 off the clock with Allen hitting Knox, who was wide open again off a play-fake on fourth down, for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-0 with 4:19 to play in the third quarter.
**The Saints finally mounted a drive and got on the board, driving 75 yards in 10 plays, taking 4:25 off the clock with Siemian hitting Nick Vannett on a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-6 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
**Then, the Saints went for two, trying to make it a 2-possession game but once again, failed as a pass was incomplete, making it 10 straight times that New Orleans has failed on 2-point conversion attempts.
**Buffalo distanced itself midway through the fourth quarter, driving 51 yards in four plays with Allen hitting Matt Breida on a 23-yard touchdown pass on a screen pass to make it 31-6 with 8:25 to play in the game. Breida set up blocks, three white shirts were in the area but none got a hand on him.
**Jordan Poyer then came up with his fifth interception of the season on a ball thrown right to him by Siemian.
**Buffalo got to play its backup quarterback the rest of the way with Mitchell Trubisky taking over for Allen.
Allen finished 23-of-28 for 260 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions and he rushed eight times for 43 yards.
Siemian was ineffective, completing 17-of-29 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
It did not help that the Saints could not run the ball a lick, rushing for 44 yards on 25 carries and Jones gained 11 of those in garbage time in the final two minutes on one run.
A total of 190 yards in an NFL game is not going to win you many games.
The makeshift offensive line for the Saints struggled mightily and the lack of quality receivers was evident again.
It was as poor of an offensive performance as we have seen under Sean Payton.
By game’s end, there were more Bills fans in the stand than Saints fans, or so it seemed.
Once again, the absence of too many key players was too much, make that way too much to overcome.
Will Hill be healthy enough to give it a go next week? Will that make any difference.
Losers of four straight and now 5-6, the Saints will host Dallas next Thursday. It does not get any easier as the Saints will be clear underdogs, in danger of losing a fifth straight game and slipping deeper in the hole of any hope of making the expanded, 7-team NFC playoff field.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Les East
The New Orleans Saints had a lot going against them in their game Sunday.
To start with, they didn’t have their most productive ball carrier and pass catcher in Alvin Kamara, who was sidelined by a knee injury.
They also were missing the starting left side of their offensive line as well as other key players whose absence has become chronic with long-term injuries.
They were playing perhaps the hottest team in the NFL in Tennessee, though the Titans also were short-handed as Derrick Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher, was on injured reserve.
Once the game got started the officials didn’t help with a universally denounced roughing-the-passer call that gifted the Titans with seven points in a game they won by two.
Brian Johnson didn’t help by missing two extra points, though he did make a field goal that was shorter than an extra point.
Despite all of those hurdles the Saints came about as close to winning a game as a team can without actually winning it.
Kinda like last week.
But despite the similarities, the 23-21 loss in Nashville wasn’t as bothersome as the 27-25 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Caesars Superdome seven days earlier.
The Saints played much closer to what could reasonably have been expected from them under the circumstances against the 8-2 Titans than they did in under-performing (with Kamara) against the 4-5 Falcons, who lost 43-3 at Dallas on Sunday.
In last week’s game the Saints played poorly and the Falcons played better in constructing a 24-6 lead with less than 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Then Trevor Siemian drove the Saints to touchdowns on drives of 66, 54 and 43 yards in a span of 9 minutes and 33 seconds to give them their only lead of the game with 61 seconds left.
But one play – a 64-yard Atlanta completion – led to a decisive field goal as time expired.
Had the Saints not allowed that completion or otherwise prevented the field goal, they would have escaped with a one-point victory that would not have been indicative of which team played better and which one played worse for 60 minutes.
The outcome Sunday could similarly have turned on a single play or two – but in this game, either outcome could have reasonably been considered an accurate reflection of which team played better and which one played worse.
The Saints could have tied the score on a two-point conversion in the final minute, but Adam Trautman false-started and Siemian threw an incompletion to Mark Ingram II, who did his best Kamara impersonation (108 yards from scrimmage and a 13-yard touchdown run) while surpassing Deuce McAllister as the most prolific rusher in franchise history.
They could have tied the score if Johnson, who inexplicably has made all eight of his field-goal attempts and just five of his eight extra point attempts, had made both PATs.
The outcome might have been different if head coach Sean Payton, in one of the least Sean Payton decisions in recent memory, had Johnson kick a 20-yard field (which he made) to cut the deficit to eight with 5:33 left rather than trying for a touchdown from the one-yard line.
We could play coulda, woulda, shoulda in honor of Jim Mora all day, but it won’t change anything.
The bottom line is the disappointment of this loss isn’t that the Saints failed to play up to their standards, which was the case a week ago. The disappointment of this outcome is that it was so close to being such a special victory.
Though neither was good enough to produce a victory, Siemian again showed he is a capable replacement for Jameis Winston and the red-zone defense was superb.
The Saints haven’t lost two games in a row very often during their streak of four consecutive divisions titles.
In fact this current two-game losing streak is just the fourth one in the last five seasons.
The Saints’ 5-4 record is their worst at this point during the last five seasons, but their chances of winning another division title haven’t been damaged as much as much as one might expect.
The Washington Football Team defeated first-place Tampa Bay on Sunday, so the Saints remained only one game behind the defending Super Bowl champions.
They are just one game above .500, but they still control their fate in the division because the NFL is designed to assure that teams rarely clear the bar of mediocrity with a whole lot of space to spare.
Da Boot Sports
Article Courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Les East
NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints had a lot of problems in their last-second 27-25 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Trevor Siemian wasn’t one of them.
Siemian understandably was the center of attention as he made his first start under center in the wake of Jameis Winston’s season-ending knee injury last week.
He played well enough for the Saints to win, but the Saints didn’t play well enough in other areas to win.
Siemian completed 25 of 41 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception, but he did commit a costly turnover when he fumbled while taking his only sack of the game early in the fourth quarter.
A 32-yard return by Steven Means set up Atlanta at the New Orleans six-yard line and one play later Matt Ryan was throwing his second touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus for what seemed like a comfortable 24-6 lead with 10:39 remaining.
But Siemian, who drove the Saints 70 yards to a winning field goal late in the first half of the 36-27 victory over Tampa Bay in Winston’s absence a week earlier, wasn’t done.
He took the Saints on touchdown drives of 66, 54 and 43 yards in a span of 9 minutes and
33 seconds to give them their first and what wound up being a very brief lead.
“We didn’t do the things that winning teams do consistently,” head coach Sean Payton said accurately.
His team is still a winning team with a 5-3 record after seeing a three-game winning streak end, but the Saints have now lost twice at home in games in which they led teams with worse records than theirs in the fourth quarter.
The loss to the 4-4 Falcons was the first since a 27-21 overtime loss to the 3-6 Giants, who scored the final 17 points.
On Sunday, the Saints were penalized 10 times for 74 yards. They sacked Matt Ryan just twice and let the scrambling-challenged 36-year-old run for a touchdown and elude their sporadic pass rush on multiple occasions.
The most game-turning short-coming was the inability to hold that brief lead, which was the result of one play.
On the first offensive play that the Falcons ran while trailing, they recognized a favorable matchup with rookie corner Paulson Adebo covering Cordarrelle Patterson and Ryan launched a pass up the east sideline toward midfield that produced a 64-yard catch and run.
Moments later Youngshoe Koo was kicking a 29-yard field goal, the clock was expiring and the Falcons were celebrating.
If Adebo had broken up the pass or knocked Patterson out of bounds, or Koo had somehow botched the chip shot, or somehow the Saints otherwise had made that singular lead hold up, it would have been a remarkable victory.
But this game was lost as much at the beginning as the end.
The Saints trailed 10-0 at halftime and fell into a deeper hole early in the fourth quarter primarily because they couldn’t catch enough catchable passes and they couldn’t stop the Falcons from catching passes with sufficient consistency.
Siemian’s solid numbers would have been more impressive if not for a handful of passes that, though imperfect, still hit professional pass catchers in the hands and went incomplete.
Meanwhile Ryan completed 23 of 30 passes for 343 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, often finding receivers who were wide open and snared passes they should have snared.
The Saints rushed for three times as many yards as the Falcons (109-34) and averaged a satisfactory 4.4 yards per rush, but converted just 3 of 10 third downs and failed on their only fourth-down attempt.
Speaking of failures, their inability to convert either of the 2-point conversions they attempted after their final two touchdowns were significant as well.
Additionally, the Saints possessed the ball for 32 minutes and 21 seconds and the Falcons possessed it for 27 minutes and 39 seconds.
That’s a statistic that can be misleading, as it was in this game, because even though having the ball for more than half of the game means more offensive opportunities than the opponent, it doesn’t mean as much as how well you take advantage of however many opportunities you do have.
The Saints had an opportunity Sunday to tie Tampa Bay for the NFC South lead and tie East-leading Dallas and North-leading Green Bay in the loss column.
But they didn’t take advantage despite having sufficient quarterback play to do so.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Les East
NEW ORLEANS – Sean Payton wasn’t going to be deterred.
He and his New Orleans Saints were facing Tom Brady and the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
The Saints were 4-2 and the Bucs were 6-1 and New Orleans’ hope of winning a fifth consecutive division title were going to be dramatically affected by the game’s outcome.
Sure it was Halloween in the Caesars Superdome and it was going to be loud. That helps, but that only goes so far.
The coaches and players were going to have to do the heavy lifting.
Payton’s calculation was simple: a really aggressive Saints team was going to have a much better chance than a cautious Saints team.
“Everything about today’s approach was going to be super, super aggressive,” Payton said afterward.
Payton’s nature is to be aggressive, “super aggressive” when he believes it’s appropriate, even periodically “overly aggressive” as critics would describe it.
Facing the most successful quarterback in NFL history and the reigning Super Bowl champions who ended the Saints’ 2020 season in January led Payton to be willing to err on the side of boldness.
In the end whether he was super aggressive or overly aggressive was subjective, but what wasn’t subjective was the fact that the Saints won 36-27.
Payton, who once turned a Super Bowl in his team’s favor by starting the second half with an onside kickoff, embraced his first opportunity to be super aggressive Sunday.
On the Saints’ first possession they faced a fourth and one at their 44 and Payton chose to go for the first down rather than punt. The Bucs stopped Alvin Kamara short and four plays later Brady was throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.
One man’s super-aggression is another man’s over-aggression.
Payton’s players were less fazed than Payton’s critics and on the ensuing possession they drove 75 yards, the last 16 of which came on a tying touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to Tre’Quan Smith.
Then early in the second quarter Winston was lost for the rest of the game – and probably much longer – to a knee injury. After the game Payton didn’t want to provide specifics before having a more thorough briefing from the medical staff, but he did say that he thought the injury was “significant.”
So Payton had no choice but to place the Saints offense in the hands of Trevor Siemian.
Everyone in the Superdome and watching on television had to be wondering where the Saints offense was going to come from or even if they were going to have a viable offense in Winston’s absence.
Winston’s teammates, especially those on defense, immediately recognized that overcoming Winston’s absence didn’t rest solely with Siemian but rather with everyone who played.
On the Bucs’ first possession after Winston’s departure, Brady drove them to the Saints 31. But on third and six, Cameron Jordan sacked Brady and caused a fumble that David Onyemata, making his season debut after a six-game suspension, recovered.
Siemian led the Saints to a Brian Johnson’s field goal and the defense rose up again as C.J. Gardner-Johnson intercepted Brady and returned the ball to the Tampa Bay 35.
On third-and-goal from the one, Siemian threw a touchdown pass to Alex Armah and the Saints had an improbable 16-7 halftime lead.
Payton said the Saints spent less time during the break dealing with the change at quarterback than they did with the Bucs’ defensive approach being different from what they expected.
The Saints received the second-half kickoff and Siemian drove them 75 yards to the Bucs’ one. Facing a fourth down, Payton didn’t hesitate to go for the score and Kamara secured a tricky pitch and waltzed into the end zone.
Payton said that “a good trait” Siemian has is that he’s “pretty calm.”
Quickly things got less calm as Brady led Tampa Bay on consecutive touchdown drives that reduced the Saints lead to 23-21 at the end of the third quarter.
Suddenly the Dome felt as it did on December 30, 2000.
Wild-card playoff against another reigning Super Bowl champion – the St. Louis Rams.
Saints led 31-7 early in the fourth quarter, then 31-28 late in the fourth quarter. They punted back to the Rams, and a really nervous crowd awaited a return to the field by a really tired Saints defense.
Then Az-Zahir Hakim fumbled a punt (“Hakim drops the ball”), Brian Milne secured the football for the home team and another backup quarterback who had been thrust into a starter’s role by injury (Aaron Brooks) kneeled out the franchise’s first playoff victory ever.
This less historic, but the result was the same.
After an exchange of punts, Siemian and the Saints offense cobbled together a 50-yard drive that produced Johnson’s 35-yard field goal and an only slightly less uncomfortable five-point lead.
Brady quickly answered with a 50-yard yard to pass to Cyril Grayson, a Rummel High, LSU and Saints alum, for the Bucs’ first lead (27-26) since the first quarter with less than six minutes remaining.
With the Saints in desperate need of a points-producing drive, their super-aggressive head coach didn’t shy away from letting Siemian throw the ball. Siemian responded with four completions for 34 yards and a first-and-goal at the nine as the two-minute warning arrived.
Then Siemian threw two incompletions before hitting Kamara for a four-yard gain. That sequence took just 19 seconds off the clock and left Brady with plenty of time needing just a field-goal drive after Johnson’s 23-yard kick gave the Saints a precarious 29-27 edge.
Payton, naturally, was asked after the game about not running the ball once or twice to force the Bucs to use more than one timeout or lose precious seconds.
“Obviously, I don’t want to throw an incomplete pass,” he said.
It was a tricky calculation.
Of course you want to leave Brady as little time as possible. But you also want to put him in the position of needing a touchdown instead of a field goal, which would require more time.
“I’m thinking score,” Payton said.
Payton added that the “perfect scenario” would be to score a touchdown and use up as much time as possible.
“That’s easier said than done,” he said.
After the kickoff Brady 101 seconds and one timeout to work with.
After one incompletion, P.J. Williams picked off Brady and ran 40 yards for a clinching touchdown.
Perhaps Williams saved Payton from his excessive aggressiveness.
Or perhaps the head coach’s chronic aggressiveness has produced a team that thrives in challenging circumstances such as Sunday’s.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
It was a tilting of the see-saw game.
A pair of 2-2 teams squared off on a gray day in the suburban area of the nation’s capitol.
Things looked gray for a while for the visiting New Orleans Saints.
Then, things looked black and gold as New Orleans fought through adversity to pick up a needed win in a game that could swing the momentum of a season possibly heading toward mediocrity into one with promise.
For quite some time, the Saints reflected the up-and-down, inconsistent .500 team they were entering the game.
Then, the team found itself, making big plays that had to be made in all three phases of the game, including a wing-and-a-prayer being answered to end the first half.
It was an important victory.
Here are some Quick Takes from the 33-22 victory over the Washington Football Team:
**The Saints came out throwing against a poor Washington pass defense. It did not work.
**First, Winston badly overthrew an open Kenny Stills.
**Then, Winston badly underthrew Taysom Hill and, for that matter, threw it well behind him and right into the arms of Cole Holcumb for an interception, which he returned to the New Orleans 31-yard line.
**Fortunately, Taylor Heinicke missed a wide open receiver on third down and Dustin Hopkins came on to kick a 45-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 12:27 to play in the opening quarter.
**Winston responded in outstanding fashion, shaking off the pick and hitting a wide open Deonte Harris on a fly pattern for a 75-yard touchdown to make it 7-3 with 11:13 to play in the opening quarter.
**On the play, there appeared to be confusion between Bobby McClain and Landon Collins. It was the longest play of Harris’ young career.
**Washington responded with a 72-yard drive in 12 plays which stalled at the New Orleans 5-yard line as Marshon Lattimore broke up a Taylor Heinicke pass in the end zone. That forced a 28-yard field goal by Hopkins to cut the lead to 7-6 with 4:55 to play in the opening quarter.
**Winston then committed his second turnover on the next possession. On a pass attempt, he held the ball quite long, was sacked by Chase Young, fumbled and Payne recovered.
**The defense then got a big stop but Carl Granderson roughed the punter, giving Washington new life a the New Orleans 34-yard line.
**Then, Bradley Roby committed an obvious pass interference penalty of 16 yards to the New Orleans 18-yard line.
**Washington had the ball for 10:37 in the first quarter.
**Washington took total advantage of the mistake by Granderson, driving 44 yards in seven plays, taking 4:11 off the clock with Antonio Gibson scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run to give the home team a 13-7 lead with 14:16 to play in the first half.
**The Saints lost a big weapon when Austin Jackson III committed a personal foul on Taysom Hill on a deep pass attempt by Winston. Jackson hit Hill in the head, knocking him out of the game with likely concussion-symptoms. Hill was carted off the field.
**New Orleans finished off a nice 75-yard drive in six plays with Alvin Kamara racing 23 yards, straight up the middle, for a touchdown. On the play, James Hurst had a very nice seal block.
**Unfortunately, Cody Parkey, making his debut with the Saints, missed the extra point wide right leaving the game tied 13-13 with 10:58 to play in the first half.
**Then, Harris, the other big threat on offense, tweaked a hamstring.
**Washington reached the New Orleans 16-yard line but Paulson Adebo came up with huge play, intercepting Heinicke at the 2-yard line. It was a man coverage, jump ball and Adebo won the battle with Curtis Samuel.
**The interception by Adebo snapped a streak of six straight possessions with either a touchdown or a field goal by New Orleans opponents, dating to the previous game with the Giants.
**Dwayne Washington went down hurt on a punt midway through the second quarter.
**Blake Gillikin delivered a massive punt of 60 yards which went out of bounds at the Washington 1-yard line with 1:53 to play in the first half.
**That gave the Saints a chance and they would take full advantage. After Washington went 3-and-out and punted, Kamara returned the punt to the Washington 48-yard line with eight seconds left.
**Rather than looking to throw a quick out-route, Winston and Sean Payton elected to go the Hail Mary route and the prayer was answered with the fullness of grace as Marquez Callaway positioned himself well, sealed off a defender and the ball was positioned very well by Winston with Callaway catching it for a 48-yard touchdown on the final play of the half to give the Saints a 20-13 lead.
**In an uneven first half, Winston finished 8-of-16 for 189 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
**Washington ran 39 plays to just 26 for the Saints in the half and Washington had the ball for 19:31 to just 10:29 for the Saints.
**Gillikin then nailed a 57-yard punt which went out-of-bounds at the Washington
**Winston made a perfect throw on a deep ball to Kamara, who dropped it.
**Washington drove 69 yards in 14 plays, taking 7:20 off the clock with Hopkins kicking a 24-yard field goal to make it 20-16 with 1:53 to play in the third quarter. It was a classic case of the defense bending but not breaking.
**Andrus Peat went down late in the third quarter and Will Clapp replaced him at left guard.
**Gillikin then came through huge again, punting 53 yards and it was downed at the Washington 2-yard line.
**PJ Williams then came up with the big play, picking off a Heinicke pass at the Washington 26-yard line.
**Four plays later, Winston connected with a wide-open Callaway on a 12-yard touchdown pass to give the Saints breathing room with a 27-16 lead with 12:12 to play in the game.
**On the play, Callaway, in the slot, simply went outside, off the back of two other New Orleans receivers and the defensive back chose not to go under and got caught in the wash and it was as easy a completion as you could possibly hope for.
**Washington answered with a 75-yard drive in eight plays to pull closer, scoring on a 1-yard run by Antonio Gibson to make it 27-22 with 7:51 to play in the game. The pass attempt for a 2-point conversion was batted down by Shy Tuttle.
**It was time for the offense to step up and it did with an assist to the brilliant play-calling of Sean Payton.
**The Saints were faced with fourth-and-less than a yard at their own 34-yard line. Payton called timeout and elected to go for it. Winston snuck it between the left guard and tackle slot for a first down with a good down-block by Peat, who returned to action.
**Then, Payton fooled Washington with a play-action pass and Winston hit a wide- open Adam Trautman for 32 yards to the Washington 32-yard line.
**After Kamara ran for 11 and two yards, Payton dialed up a pass to Kamara and Winston hit him on a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-22. Once again, Parkey missed the extra point.
While it was an uneven offensive performance and a bit uneven for Winston, all is well that ended well.
Winston overcame the two early turnovers to complete 15-of-30 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns.
Kamara was his usual self, rushing 16 times for 71 yards and a score and catching five passes for 51 yards and another touchdown. Kamara also stepped in for Harris and returned three punts for 29 yards. Kamara was superb, other than the dropped pass.
It was great to see Trautman finally contribute after a rough, make that very rough start to the season.
Callaway came through in huge fashion with four catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Lattimore was tremendous, as he broke up six passes.
The defense came up with two big turnovers, sorely needed.
The move to allow legendary punter Thomas Morstead to leave is being vindicated.
Gillikin was tremendous, averaging 53.6 yards on five punts, including efforts of 60, 57 and 53 yards which were downed at the 1,2 and 3-yard lines, respectively. If Gillikin is not the NFL Special Teams Player of the Week, there should be an investigation.
There is a huge difference between being 3-2 and being 2-3, particularly going into a bye week.
With the injuries to Hill, Harris and Washington, added to the absence of Kwon Alexander, David Onyemata, Marcus Davenport, Michael Thomas, Erik McCoy, Terron Armstead, Tre’Quan Smith and Tony Jones, the start is respectable but it could have been outstanding had New Orleans not blown an 11-point fourth quarter lead at home to a poor New York Giants squad.
Still, considering the obstacles, including the massive first half mistakes and injuries, the win Sunday was a big one.
There is a real chance that New Orleans will get many of those injured players back with a week off before heading to Seattle on Oct. 25.
After that game, Onyemata will return.
The Saints will get healthier and should get better as the growth process continues.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Les East
NEW ORLEANS – It had been 637 days since the New Orleans Saints played in front of a sellout crowd in the Superdome.
A lot happened in that time – COVID-19 necessitated all sorts of adjustments, Drew Brees retired, Hurricane Ida hit.
Still, it seemed like déjà vu all over again Sunday.
In that last sold-out game, Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on the first possession of overtime and the Minnesota Vikings beat the Saints 26-20 in a wild-card playoff, ending New Orleans’ 2019 season.
In the latest sold-out game, Rudolph was back with the visiting team in the Dome, but it was Saquon Barkley running six yards for a touchdown on the first possession of overtime to give the New York Giants a 27-21 victory.
This loss certainly doesn’t end this season.
But it was reminiscent of that last loss and not just because both served as reminders that the NFL overtime rules are inherently unfair in allowing any team to potentially lose any overtime game without ever possessing the ball in the extra period.
More importantly both games served as reminders that NFL teams that have a better record than their opponent are vulnerable if they fail to play as well as their opponent.
Thus the NFC South champion Saints, who were 13-3 two years ago, lost to a 10-6 wild-card team from Minnesota.
Thus this 2-1 Saints team, with impressive wins against Green Bay and New England, lost to a winless Giants team that was missing two starting wide receivers.
Every team in the NFL is coached by professionals who work really hard to prepare their professional players to succeed.
And even teams with inferior records aren’t all that inferior to teams with superior records.
The NFL is designed to keep the gap between the best teams and the worst teams relatively small and it mostly works that way. The disparity between the best and the worst gets bigger as the season progresses and the best teams become more confident and the worst teams get dispirited.
But we have just entered October. This inaugural 17-game season hasn’t reached the one-quarter mark yet.
Teams that are off to slow starts aren’t dispirited yet. If anything they feel a sense or urgency to keep fighting because there is enough time to salvage respectability.
They might not have much of a chance to win their division or make the playoffs or have a winning record. But with this much time left much can change.
The Giants certainly weren’t dispirited, not even after losing their last two games on last-second field goals by Washington and Atlanta.
The Saints had plenty of spirit too for their long-awaited home opener after a month-long displacement to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
When they opened last season amid COVID restrictions, not only was the Dome devoid of fans, the neighborhood around the Dome was eerily quiet and littered with countless signs reminding citizens that tailgating was strictly prohibited.
But on Sunday those same streets were filled with tailgaters barbecuing, drinking and socializing in preparation for the kickoff.
Inside the Dome it was loud. A full-throated “Who Dat” chant went up early. The players were as emotional as the spectators.
Then the game began.
It was not a great day for Sean Payton and his staff.
The offense started slowly and that helped the Giants take the early lead.
The defense started better, but the pass rush vanished and in its absence Daniel Jones picked apart the secondary for 400-plus yards.
Still the Saints flirted with taking command of a game in which they didn’t play their best.
Jameis Winston was an efficient 17 of 23 for 226 yards and a touchdown, Taysom Hill ran for two touchdowns and Alvin Kamara rushed for 120 yards on a career-high 26 carries.
Those are good numbers, but they weren’t good enough.
The Saints took a 21-10 lead with 12:09 remaining in the game, but the Giants weren’t fazed.
Jones threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Barkley, ran for a two-point conversion and drove the Giants to Graham Gano’s 48-yard field goal with 31 seconds left to force overtime.
Then the Giants won the coin toss and took advantage of the opportunity.
And the Saints lost.
Just like 637 days earlier.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Les East
These New Orleans Saints are different.
They’re different from their predecessors that have won the last four NFL South titles.
In fact they’re different than any other Saints team since Sean Payton became head coach before the 2006 season.
It’s too early to tell just how good they are, though the solid 28-13 victory at New England on Sunday is likely far more indicative of what they ultimately will be than either the atrocious 26-7 loss at Carolina last week or the nearly flawless 38-3 win against Green Bay in the opener was.
This team is different.
Being different isn’t inherently good or bad, but it’s looking like in this case it might be pretty good.
We knew Drew Brees’ retirement would necessitate a significant adjustment. And the Saints are adjusting pretty well so far.
This isn’t a case of Sean Payton trying to turn Jameis Winston into as reasonable a facsimile of Brees as Winston is capable of being.
It’s a case Payton of turning the first post-Brees Saints team into a team with a distinctive personality that maximizes its potential.
Winston is never going to be a reasonable facsimile of Brees.
He’s not going to consistently complete more than 70 percent of his passes. He’s not going to get the Saints out of bad plays into good ones or out of bad protections into good ones with nearly the frequency that Brees did for 15 seasons.
We saw that last week when the Panthers constantly pressured Winston, partly because the Saints blocked poorly, partly because the linemen were confused about whom to block, and partly because Winston couldn’t bring clarity to the confusion the way Brees probably would have.
Winston is going to periodically make poor decisions and reckless throws that Brees would rarely make. We saw that with the two interceptions that Winston threw last week, but those are the only interceptions he has thrown in three games.
We saw something similar Sunday when Winston was being tackled on a third-and-goal and semi-blindly tossed the ball toward the back of the end zone, though it worked out fine when Marquez Callaway made a leaping catch for his first NFL touchdown.
“That was all God,” Winston said accurately. “I was trying to throw that ball away, Marquez went up there and snatched it. So, touchdown good guys.”
So the passing offense and the quarterback position are going to be different than they have been. They won’t be better, but maybe on balance they’ll be good enough – because of the running game, the defense and the special teams.
Winston also threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara that also came on third down as did the touchdown last week. Against the Packers one of the five touchdowns came on third down and another came on fourth down.
So Brees’ successor is producing pretty consistently when the stakes are high.
Payton committed to the running game Sunday and it was successful, just as the case had been against Green Bay. The running game didn’t work last week because the Saints couldn’t block anyone, the defense couldn’t get off the field in the first half and the game got out of hand.
But on Sunday, with center Erik McCoy sidelined for a second consecutive game and Terron Armstead missing most of the game after injuring an elbow, Kamara rushed for 89 yards and Taysom Hill averaged 5.3 yards on six carries and ran for a clinching touchdown.
Hill’s touchdown came at the end of a 13-play, 75-yard drive that featured 10 rushes for 56 yards.
That drive was much-needed after the defense allowed the only Patriots touchdown of the game, reducing the lead to eight points.
But overall the defense played very well and confirmed what we already suspected, that it will be the tone-setting unit for this team.
“Last year, on paper, we had the potential to be good,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “This year we know we’re good.”
Patriots rookie No. 1 draft choice Mac Jones had not thrown an interception in his first two games as an NFL quarterback. But the Saints harassed him throughout – not as badly as the Panthers harassed Winston but not all that far off either – and he threw three interceptions.
P.J. Williams’ interception set up Callaway’s touchdown, Jenkins returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the third quarter to put the Saints in command with a 21-3 lead and Marshon Lattimore’s interception prevented a last-minute score by the Patriots.
The biggest blemish on this performance was the two missed field goals, from 52 and 36 yards, by Aldrick Rosas. Wil Lutz is eligible to be activated this week after undergoing core-muscle surgery during training camp.
It’s unclear if he’s ready to play. If he’s not it seems fairly certain that the Saints will have tryouts to see if a potential upgrade from Rosas is available.
Those tryouts would take place at the Saints Metairie practice facility because the team headed home after the game, ending a four-week displacement to the Dallas-Fort Worth area thanks to Hurricane Ida that began when the team’s preseason finale was canceled.
“It feels like we’ve been in training camp for two and a half months now,” Jenkins said.
When training camp began we knew the Saints were beginning a transition that’s ongoing.
It’s just three games, but the new identity is starting to come into focus.
And it looks pretty good.
Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By: Ken Trahan
I did not see last week coming, not by a long shot.This time around, I could see it coming. Perhaps you could as well.
The New Orleans Saints were without Kwon Alexander, Marshon Lattimore, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Davenport, Tanoh Kpassagnon, David Onyemata, and Erik McCoy and Wil Lutz. They were already without Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith.
Then, the Saints were without eight assistant coaches, including offensive analyst Jim Chaney, assistant Declan Doyle, senior assistant Curtis Johnson, tight ends coach Dan Roushar, running backs coach Joel Thomas, defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen, pass rush specialist Brian Young and special teams coach Phil Galiano.
The Saints had won four straight games against Carolina and 10 straight NFC South contests.
Both streaks ended and ended in a big way Sunday in Charlotte.
The depleted Saints were beaten in every aspect of the game.
The Panthers dominated up front on both sides of the ball.
New Orleans could not stop the pass and could not run or pass the football.
The final margin of victory could easily have been much worse.
It was a physical beating administered by the Panthers to the Saints.
Here are my Quick Takes on the 26-7 win for Carolina over New Orleans:
**The Panthers took the opening kickoff and promptly took the lead, driving 75 yards in five plays, taking three minutes to do so with Sam Darnold hitting a wide- open Brandon Zylstra on a 20-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 with 12 minutes left in the opening quarter. On the play, Marcus Williams vacated his deep safety area, leaving Zylstra open.
**Darnold was 3-for-3 for 72 yards on the drive, including a 36-yard completion to Christian McCaffrey.
**On the first Saints possession, New Orleans got a break on a questionable roughing the passer call against Jameis Winston.
**The drive died when Winston was sacked as Adam Trautman missed a block and then Terron Armstead and Calvin Throckmorton committed consecutive false start penalties.
**First-round pick Payton Turner was called on to play with Davenport and Kpassagnon out and Turner was flagged for roughing the passer on Carolina’s second possession.
**Carolina finished the first quarter with 159 yards to just 15 for the Saints. The Panthers had the ball for 11:16 to just 3:44 for New Orleans. The Panthers had eight first downs to just one for the Saints.
**The Panthers continued to dominate, driving 64 yards in 15 plays and milking 8:57 off the clock but the drive stalled at the New Orleans 2-yard line and Zane Gonzalez booted a 20-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 10-0 lead with 11:11 to play in the half.
**Things only got worse for the Saints as Carolina drove 10 plays, 72 yards, taking 5:30 off the clock with Darnold hitting D.J. Moore on a 2-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-0 with 1:55 to play in the half.
**The Saints finally made a play as Winston connected with Lil’Jordan Humphrey on a 27-yard pass to the Carolina 37.
**Too much pressure on Winston trying to pass resulted in consecutive incomplete passes before Winston reverted to his Tampa Bay form.
**Under a bit of pressure, Winston simply threw one deep down the field, right to Juston Burris for an easy interception. Had Winston simply thrown it away, Aldrick Rosas, who has a very strong leg, would have had a shot at a 54 or 55-yard field goal.
**How dominant was Carolina in the first half? The Panthers had 274 yards to just 65 for the Saints. New Orleans had four yards rushing and Carolina had the ball for 20:55 to just 9:05 for the Saints. The Panthers had 38 offensive snaps to just 17 for the Saints.
**Darnold was 16-of-20 for 206 yards and two touchdowns in the half.
**The Saints got the ball first in the second half and picked up where they left off, going three-and-out.
**Carolina had a drive stalled by Bradley Roby, who sacked Darnold.
**Then, Carl Granderson blocked a Gonzalez field goal attempt and Zack Baun returned it to the Carolina 38-yard line.
**Of course, the Saints did nothing with it.
**Then, the defense came up with a big play as PJ Williams blitzed and hit Darnold. Malcolm Roach recovered the resulting loose ball at the Carolina 18-yard line.
**The Saints reached the 1-yard line but on second-and-goal, a toss sweep to Alvin Kamara was called and he lost seven yards.
**On third, and-goal, Winston stepped up and ran it in on a called pass play, scoring on an eight-yard run to make it 17-7 with 14:37 to play in the game.
**Carolina finished it off with a 42-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining to account for the final margin of victory.
**Winston threw a second interception late in the game on another very ill-advised throw, off-balance into the arms of Jaycee Horn, an ironic, fitting ending as the son of Saints Hall of Fame inductee Joe Horn made the play. Remember, the Saints were rumored to be interested in trading up in the 2021 draft for Horn.
Darnold finished 26-of-38 for 305 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
It was the first 300-yard passing game by Darnold since 2019.
In his first game in the NFL, first-round pick Payton Turner incurred two penalties, one for roughing the passer and the other for jumping in the neutral zone (a poor call). To his credit, he came back with a tackle for loss followed by a sack on the same series in the fourth quarter.
Winston was sacked four times and was under pressure throughout. He had no run game and little pass protection.
Still, his decision-making was shaky.
On one play, he hesitated to take off and run when the field was wide open.
On another, under intense pressure, Winston tried to force the ball forward. Initially, it was ruled a fumble but correctly overturned by replay.
Both interceptions were awful throws under pressure.
Winston finished 11-of-22 for just 111 yards with two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 26.9.
How bad was the New Orleans offense?
Try 129 total yards and seven points.
The seven points scored were the fewest since a 24-6 loss at Houston in 2016.
The seven points scored tied the second fewest points scored by the Saints under Sean Payton since he took over the team in 2006.
New Orleans scored seven points in a 34-7 loss at Seattle in 2013 and in a 30-7 loss at Carolina in 2008.
The Saints scored nine points twice in the 2019 season.
The 176 yards were the fewest since a 13-10 loss at Dallas on Nov. 29, 2018 when the Saints were also held to 176 total yards.
Carolina converted 8-of-15 third down attempts while New Orleans was just 2-of-11.
On the bright side, Blake Gillikin was excellent, punting his first effort downed at the Carolina 7-yard line before nailing a 60-yarder on his second punt. Gillikin averaged 49 yards on six punts. Deonte Harris averaged 31.2 yards on five kickoff returns.
The Saints head to New England next week.
How many, if any players will return?
How many coaches will return?
Reinforcements are certainly wanted, needed.
The Saints are 1-1, perhaps where most expected them to be, at this point.
The NFL is a cruel business.
On this day, it stood for “No Fun Lately” for the Saints and their rabid fan-base.
The challenge is truly week-to-week.
While excuses are for losers, the Saints had a ton of excuses Sunday and get a mulligan, at least for this week, due to the amazing number of players and coaches missing. The losses before the game clearly led to the loss.
The Panthers, an improved team, took total advantage as a solid team is supposed to do.