POSTED Mon. Oct 14, 2013
State of the Saints 6: Haunted

Cue memories of the 49ers game of January 2012. Yesterday was similarly heartbreaking, as we scored the miracle TD and got the ball back twice but were able to leave just enough time on the clock to lose with five seconds remaining.

The defense played well through most of the game. We were in Brady’s face all day, sacking him five times. We stopped them on 4th down twice. The Pats ultimately won by three points despite running twenty more offensive plays than the Saints. For the most part, Rob Ryan’s unit played great and kept us in the game all day.

What Went Wrong?

The Saints had penalty issues. New Orleans folks are gonna blame the referees for this game for years to come, but we committed our fair share. The first of these was on Keenan Lewis in the endzone on the Patriots third drive, allowing Ridley to cruise in for his first score. There were sketchy calls, however, the first on the should-have-been offsides that would have converted a 4th and 1 for the Saints in the second quarter. There was another questionable call in the third quarter on a Jenkins collision with Kenbrell Thompkins that looked clean, which gave the Pats a free first down. Then, of course, there was the no-call on the hold on Galette linked above.

The Saints offense was wildly inconsistent yesterday. The Pats completely flummoxed Brees in the first half by taking away Jimmy Graham, and after the early touchdown to Cadet we punted the ball away until halftime. The defense was on the field for way too much of this game. No one appeared to step up, with Graham shut down by double coverage. Colston looks sluggish, like a guy who can’t get any separation anymore. Toon and Stills are still too inconsistent despite flashes of promise. Bless Ben Watson’s heart, but he is not the answer. Khiry Robinson came on a bit later in the game and could be an interesting asset going forward, but the ground game stalled out late when we really needed it.

In the last few minutes we stopped the Pats on 4th down and intercepted the ball, giving it back to Brees only so he could sputter out. You’ve gotta give the damn defense a break. The late fourth quarter offense was really the gamebreaker here.

Things We Can Think About to Be Less Bummed This Week

I keep reminding myself that there is no need to panic. These ghosts from the past are misleading. We have Rob Ryan and a good defense. Things are different now.

The fundamental difference between yesterday and the 2012 49ers game is that the latter was the end of the season. The Saints are 5-1 heading into a much needed bye week after a tough stretch. We are in a comfortable divisional lead and have a solid chance of hosting a playoff game in New Orleans.

We got lucky in the Tampa game, which was divisional, and unlucky in this AFC game that counts for less. Our offense did not play very well when it counted, none of the questionable calls went our way and we barely lost to a hall of fame quarterback.

Saints remaining schedule: Bills, at Jets, Cowboys, 49ers, at Falcons, at Seahawks, Panthers, at Rams, at Panthers, Bucs.

Only the Seahawks and 49ers have winnings records. The rest of these teams have a combined 14-25 record. It is easy to envision us going 6-4 down this stretch, which would put us at 11-5.

LOL. The Falcons. Falcons schadenfreude is nice on days like today.

Image courtesy of the New Orleans Saints

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