The New Orleans Saints fell victim to a series of self-inflicted wounds in the first half Saturday, and their special teams were just as much to blame as the offense or defense.
The first big mistake of the game -- and clearly, the most embarrassing gaffe -- came as New Orleans punted the ball away after a three-and-out on its opening possession. Dealing with some windy, rainy conditions, Saints punter Thomas Morstead mustered just a 16-yard punt, which set up the Seahawks on the Saints' 40 and led to a field goal.
But the shanked punt paled in comparison to what happened to Morstead before he even got the kick off. Specifically, this (GIF via Guyism):
New Orleans answered that early Seattle score with a solid second drive into Seahawks' territory. But that all went for naught, as Shayne Graham's 45-yard field goal hooked just wide left. Replays showed that holder (and backup quarterback) Luke McCown spun the laces in on the football just prior to Graham's kick -- a no-no that may have caused the attempt to sneak outside the uprights.
Down by 13 points later in the first half and perhaps remembering Graham's miss, the Saints opted to go for it on 4th-and-4 deep in Seattle territory. They failed there, too, keeping them off the scoreboard.