Sloppy Saints Offense Falls Flat Again In Loss To Bucs
For the second straight week, the Saints failed to find the endzone. Their defense played well enough to win, but the offense kept shooting itself in the foot.
Over the last two games, Drew Brees has six interceptions and zero touchdowns. It's unfamiliar territory for Saints fans, who are used to getting treated to entertaining offensive outputs. The Bucs only scored one touchdown, but it was all they needed for the 16-11 win in Tampa Bay.
The Saints had ample opportunities to punch the ball in the endzone, but penalties and poor execution prevented them from ever breaking their dry spell.
Head Coach Sean Payton said it was a frustrating performance after the game, and he pointed to the season-high 13 penalties they committed.
"I thought there were a lot of things we did defensively. I thought the penalties certainly hurt us," Payton said bluntly. "When we watch this tape, it's going to come up time and time again."
New Orleans actually outgained the Bucs, 294 yards to 270, but they couldn't apply the finishing touches.
Several times, they committed crucial mistakes in striking range. They had a 1st and Goal inside the five, and they ended up moving backward with a penalty and a sack, and that's only one example of their inefficiency. Coach Payton kept going back to the penalties in his postgame press conference.
"Two weeks now we haven't scored a touchdown, and I think you have to start there," Payton said. "Those keep you from having a chance. We have to be better."
The defense did everything possible to keep the Saints in the game. Brees had two different chances in the fourth quarter to orchestrate a comeback and a game winning drive, but nothing materialized. The first opportunity ended in a three and out, and then the Bucs picked off his pass, one of three interceptions on the day, to seal the Saints' fate.
It was also a dismal performance on the ground. Payton only decided to run the ball 16 times all game, and the backs only mustered 46 yards rushing. One of Brees' interceptions came on a 3rd and 1 play, where the Saints didn't even have a running back on the field. Whether it was the play calling or execution, the offense didn't do enough.
Without Michael Thomas, Brees forced the ball into coverage several times, and the Bucs made him pay. His three interceptions were the only turnovers all game, as Tampa protected the ball and didn't make things easy on New Orleans.
Brandin Cooks received some harsh criticism from former Saint Scott Shanle, who called out Cooks for not trying for a ball in tight coverage late in the game. He clearly tried to avoid taking a big hit, and it almost gave the Bucs an easy interception. So soon after voicing his displeasure about his usage, Cooks didn't seem to give the extra effort necessary when his QB needed a catch.
Shanle added another tweet to soften the message, but he still didn't cut Cooks any slack.
With poor performances on the field and losses stacking up on the season's slate, tensions are only going to get higher in the locker room.
The loss drops the Saints to 5-8 on the year, and it most likely eliminates them from playoff contention. It was a brutal performance and a fitting conclusion to a sloppy game, riddled with miscues and frustration.
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