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.