Saints Beat Themselves for a Second Straight Week
New Orleans threw a costly interception in the first half and had yet another field goal blocked that was returned by Luke Kuechly for a touchdown. Although the play was called back by a penalty, on the ensuing play Cam Newtown found Ted Ginn Jr. in the back of the end zone to jump out to a 23-3 lead headed into the half. The Saints made a late surge, scoring 17 unanswered, but it was not enough to overcome their costly mistakes that they have made all season.
The Saints have now lost five games within a margin of 6 (Raiders, Giants, Chiefs, Broncos, Panthers) and three of them have come in the hands of blocked field goals. The Saints are a young team that has flashed greatness but has subsided behind their lack of focus on special teams. In what may have decided their season, this was not the two game stretch that Drew Brees and Sean Payton envisioned.
Takeaways from Week 11:
Although Carolina held on for a key NFC South victory, the conference is still lying in the hands of Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Sitting at 6-4 during their bye, they are still relying on their defense to produce plays as they sit at the top of the division. The Saints are now in tough position even to be considered in the playoff conversation, but anything can happen with three division games still on the schedule.
The Saints Continue to Struggle Early:
The Saints have struggled to produce points in two straight games; turnovers have been a big factor in their drop of production but they have still shown glimpses of what could be. Scoring 17 unanswered, Drew Brees had finally tired out the Carolina defense but it was too late. Brees must find a way to gain some consistency with his offense and get all of his young receivers on the same page. With all things considered, the Saints had to abandon the run game in the second half due to the scoreboard, but on their final two scoring drives, Tim Hightower found lanes to gain positive yardage. With a tough defensive matchup next week, the Saints must use their long week to gain some offensive momentum headed back to the SuperDome.
Looking Ahead for Week 12:
The Saints return home to take on the Los Angeles Rams. Although the Rams have struggled to produce any kind of offense recently, Jared Goff will be making his first start of the season this Sunday. The Rams feature one of the best front sevens in football and Drew Brees will have his hands full if a run game is non-existent. Turnovers and costly mistakes must be washed out of their game play and their defense must continue to play at a higher level.
Some excitement came from their young players as Vonn Bell had an exceptional game at free safety. With the hopes of Delvin Breaux returning next week, after a long break, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen should look to make rookie Jared Goff uncomfortable in the pocket with timely blitzes. The Saints have minimal room for error as they must roll the dice the rest of the season if they have any hopes of participating in the postseason.