What Went Wrong for the New Orleans Saints?

John Hendrix

There is no consolation prize for the New Orleans Saints despite finishing the season at 13-3 and earning their third straight NFC South title. No matter how you slice it, the season ended too soon and the team fell short of their ultimate goal, a Lombardi Trophy. On paper, the Saints were the better team, and they were heavily favored entering the game. However, despite a controversial ending, Sean Payton and his squad were just outplayed and played uncharacteristically on Sunday.

"I felt, really, at the end of the day, that they made a few more plays, enough more plays than we did. It took us a while offensively to get going," Sean Payton said in his postgame press conference. 

"I think that they did a handful of things to, kind of hinder us in the running game. We finally gained a little bit of momentum in the second half. I thought that defensively we held up," Payton added.

The offensive line had major holes in it, as Drew Brees was under constant pressure and was sacked three times. Andrus Peat was victimized a lot, and the Saints couldn't recover in between possessions. Brees also made a bad decision at the end of the first half, throwing to Ted Ginn Jr. in double coverage. The worst part of that play was that Brees hurried the team up to the line prior to the two-minute warning, and it was almost identical to how the Eagles-Saints playoff game started a season ago. Fast forward to the second half, and Brees said a wide receiver didn't run the right route due to some miscommunication, which forced him to improvise and led to a costly fumble. 

“It was crushing for us. We didn’t play our best game and I didn’t play my best game. Collectively, we just didn’t get it done. I wish we would have had a better game today," said Ryan Ramczyk in the locker room.

The defense overcame a sluggish start and played great down the stretch, putting the Saints offense in a position to win and score. However, when you peel back the layers, they were on the field for a total of 79 snaps (9 in overtime). That just doesn't bode well for any team, especially when you lose someone like Marshon Lattimore on the overtime drive. Credit the Vikings, they immediately took advantage of it.

"We had larger dreams than this game. The season we put together had us poised to make a run through the playoffs," Cam Jordan said after the game.

Since Week 11, the Saints were averaging 36.2 points per game. Prior to Sunday, they were averaging 40 points per game in their last four. The Vikings employed a formula similar to what the Atlanta Falcons did en route to a 26-9 upset in Week 10. Danielle Hunter spoke to this during locker room interviews, saying that they decided to attack the interior offensive line because of the strength of both Saints tackles (Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead). They forced five total Thomas Morstead punts, as New Orleans finished out 4-of-11 (36.3 percent) on third down.

Drew Brees put things in great perspective after the loss, saying, "I loved the way that we fought in the fourth quarter, and we really didn’t play our best football until that point. We put together some good drives during that time and we put ourselves in position to win, but unfortunately, they just made a few more plays than we did."

Three straight strong regular season campaigns finish with three straight disappointing playoff finishes, and the Saints hourglass is running out to win with their current core. While their regular seasons have been exciting, they will need to exorcise some major demons to try and get over the hump in 2020. 

Comments (6)
No. 1-6
JayTiddy
JayTiddy

We need a complimentary WR & RB, a Slot Corner and a veteran Safety. I know someone like a healthy A.J Green or Amari Cooper if we can get them. We have to get faster. T- Hill can't be the fastest player. Let's use Dontay and Cook in the Offense more next year. Marcus Williams, P.J and Eli aren't going to get us pass these receivers in the NFC. I love Drew Brees and what he has done for the team and Who-Dat Nation. Let's get him that ring next year to show our thanks.

CreoleDiva'55
CreoleDiva'55

I agree 100% with your comments Couyon43 & Dillon88. Excellent analysis & perception of what transpired in that NFC Wildcard playoff game. My girlfriend & I both shook our heads in dismay after that gut wrenching defeat. We both commented "Taysom Hill," should have been allowed to take over cause clearly "Drew Brees" was off to a lackluster start. "Taysom" was on fire & on the attack. We refer to him as "Mr. Magic!" So much for wishful thinking. Now we're getting ready to "yell like hell," & cheer our beloved "LSU Tigers," led by our adopted son, "Joe Burreaux," & his wrecking crew for the 2020 CFB Championship game. A victory at home in the Superdome would be amazing for "Louisiana Nation." In the words of Coach Orgeron, "Go Tigers!"

Myle
Myle

I believe on superbowl sunday the fans of the saints .we should have a superbowl parade and party in the city like last year. They put together a great season. Us fans can show it to our team how about it who dat?

Wallerby
Wallerby

When you have only one back in the game all the defense has to do is follow him. Saints lack flexibility. They have become predictable.

Couyon43
Couyon43

We had, and have had, no running game and the defense and offensive line have been spotty the second half of the season. I know there's been injuries, but it seems to be a lack of focus and coming together as well. But outside of that, and don't harp on me cuz I love Drew, but he needed to take the role of being the leader of the team, and park that pride and ego. Taysom Hill was tearing up that game. With the playoffs on the line, Drew needed to realize he didn't have it that day in the middle of that game, and let Hill and Bridgewater take the helm. That's what those boys are there for. It's a loss that I don't feel we had to take. You got the Manpower at QB, use it. Drew could have come back in the fourth after the boys put a big enough hurt on the Vikings. That being said I don't mind getting kick out of the playoffs in the first round. Better to get the axe early then down the line. It just shows that we weren't supposed to be there yet. And the push off call on the last play was unfortunate, but nowhere near as dirty as last year's call. You can't expect to win games constantly going into overtime in the playoffs neck to neck. Hopefully we regroup and figure out what direction we're moving in for a more solid season next year. WHO DAT!!!

Dillon88
Dillon88

No run game as well and when Brees got pressured he just freaked out. Thomas was basically a non factor and the offense as a hole just looked out of sync. Putting Hill in there more could have been the answer because he was the one spark that got drives going and made big plays on limited snaps


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