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Best Performances From the Saints Gut-Wrenching Loss to the Titans

New Orleans stumbled their way to another big deficit and saw a furious fourth quarter rally fall short.  Here were their best performances from a bitter loss.
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The New Orleans Saints dropped to 5-4 with a 23-21 loss at the Tennessee Titans yesterday afternoon.

As expected, this was a brutal and hard-hitting affair between two of the NFL's most physical teams. It was also a game that the Saints gave away, with a bit of blatant robbery against them sprinkled in.

New Orleans S Marcus Williams had an interception in the end zone wiped away thanks to a ridiculously made-up ‘‘roughing the passer'' penalty called on LB Kaden Elliss.

For good measure, the officials threw a pass interference penalty three plays later on LB Demario Davis when that same drive was halted. Tennessee eventually cashed in on their gift-wrapped touchdown to take a 13-6 halftime lead.

Their deficit increased to 20-6 quickly in the third quarter. Wideout Deonte Harris fumbled on the opening kickoff of the second half, giving Tennessee a short field to increase their lead. Similar to last week's loss to Atlanta, New Orleans found themselves down multiple scores in the second half with a limited offense to mount a comeback.

The Saints continually shot themselves in the foot. They missed two extra points, forcing them to go for a 2-point conversion in the final minute after a furious comeback that should have instead won the game. Mistake-prone TE Adam Trautman crippled that opportunity with a mind-numbing false start that limited the play calling available.

New Orleans continues to bumble away potential point-scoring chances with penalties or miscues when they cross the 50-yard line. It happened three times yesterday, twice when they were in field goal range.

RG Cesar Ruiz was a revolving door in pass protection, giving up two sacks and several pressures. QB Trevor Siemian showed horrible awareness on the last drive of the first half, taking two sacks against a running clock to squander a chance at a field goal.

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (14) scores a touchdown past Tennessee Titans linebacker Ola Adeniyi (92). Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (14) scores a touchdown past Tennessee Titans linebacker Ola Adeniyi (92). Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The game wasn't without bright spots. Aside from that costly fumble, Deonte Harris had another strong performance with 3 receptions for 84 yards. Mark Ingram matched the physicality of the Tennessee defense and had 108 yards from scrimmage. Ingram also became the Saints all-time rushing leader, cementing his place as one of the finest players in franchise history.

Defensively, the Saints managed to make another no-name receiver, Marcus Johnson (5 catches, 100 yards), look like a budding All-Pro. Otherwise, they rose to the challenge with their backs to the wall.

New Orleans crushed the Titans ground game and limited them to just 77 second half yards while holding Pro Bowl WR A.J. Brown to just one catch for 16 yards. DE Cameron Jordan, DT David Onyemata, and LB Kwon Alexander all had solid outings.

Here were the most impressive performances from another tough loss for the Saints.

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MARCUS DAVENPORT, DE

Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92). © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) gets sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92). © George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jordan, Alexander, and Onyemata all had pressures on Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill. It was Davenport who provided the most consistent disruption.

Davenport had the Saints only two sacks on the day. The first ended a Tennessee drive, while the second ended a touchdown drive and forced a field goal to keep New Orleans in the game. He had 2 sacks, 2 additional pressures, and a tackle for loss.

After an injury-riddled early portion to his career, Davenport has developed into the team's most consistent defensive lineman over the last month. He has an explosive inside move, plays the run extremely well, and showcased his tremendous strength on both sacks against the Titans.

TREVOR SIEMIAN, QB

New Orleans Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian (15) attempts a pass against the Titans. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY

New Orleans Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian (15) attempts a pass against the Titans. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY

The Saints came into this game without injured RB Alvin Kamara, LT Terron Armstead, and a below average receiving corps that’s limited them all season. In his second start with New Orleans, Trevor Siemian again showed that he can run coach Sean Payton's offense.

After a slow start, Siemian completed 19 of 34 passes for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was a season high total for passing yardage for the team this season. He got off to a slow start and was sacked four times in the first half, but just missed on several big plays in the first half.

Siemian hit Deonte Harris with a brilliant 46-yard strike in the second quarter, setting up an 11-yard touchdown strike to WR Tre'Quan Smith. It was his second half performance that nearly led the Saints to victory.

For the second straight week, Siemian had to lead a furious fourth quarter comeback. And for the second straight week, he came tantalizingly close to pulling it off. Remember that this is essentially a third-string quarterback playing with a limited offense and appearing in just his fourth game in four years.

Siemian threw for 165 yards in the second half. He was 6 of 10 for 113 yards on the final two drives of 67 and 71 yards, bringing his team to the brink of tying the game. Siemian was sharp and poised against the Titans, who have the AFC's best record.

It’s back to the drawing board for New Orleans after two tough losses. Luckily for the Saints, division leader Tampa Bay lost at Washington, dropping their record to 6-3 and just a half game ahead of New Orleans.

The Saints face a must-win next week at 4-6 Philadelphia. Despite being battered by injuries and self-inflicted mistakes, New Orleans is still in decent playoff positioning if they can even out erratic performances on both sides of the ball. 

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