GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Andy Dalton threw for four touchdowns. New Orleans had nearly 500 yards of offense. The Saints still found a way to lose.
Dalton’s three interceptions, including two pick-6s, had something to do with it. So did the Saints’ shabby tackling.
Dalton had two interceptions returned for touchdowns just before halftime and the Cardinals scored their most points in four seasons under Kliff Kingsbury, sending the Saints to a deflating 42-34 loss on Thursday night.
”Our tackling was shoddy again,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. ”We moved the ball, we scored some points. The three takeaways were killers in the game. We’ve got to fix some of these issues.”
New Orleans (2-5) had been competitive in every game this season, even with starting quarterback Jameis Winston dealing with a back injury that kept him out of last week’s loss to Cincinnati.
The Saints got sterling rookie receiver Chris Olave back after being in concussion protocol, but didn’t have receivers Michael Thomas (foot) and Jarvis Landry (ankle).
With the veteran Dalton again starting for the ailing Winston, New Orleans looked good early against the Cardinals (3-4).
Dalton hit Rashid Shaheed on a 53-yard touchdown on the game’s fourth play and the Saints held Arizona to a field goal after driving to New Orleans’ 32 on its opening drive.
Even after Dalton threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted in the end zone – it led to another Arizona field goal – New Orleans bounced back with another quick-hitting drive capped by Taysom Hill’s 3-yard TD catch.
The night took a quick U-turn for the Saints after that.
New Orleans kept Arizona’s next drive alive with a defensive holding and allowed the Cardinals to convert a fourth-and-1, setting up Keontay Ingram’s 2-yard TD run.
Hoping to move quickly down the field just before halftime, the Saints instead found themselves down 20-14 when Marquez Callaway had a pass go through his hands and off his facemask. Marco Wilson caught the carom in stride and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
It got even worse for the Saints not long after that when Dalton was hit as he threw, Isaiah Simmons snagged a one-handed interception and returned it 56 yards for a score.
The three touchdowns in 1:42, including two pick-6s in a span of six plays, put Arizona up 28-14 at halftime. The Cardinals had two interceptions in six games prior to the outburst against the Saints.
”That one (the first interception) is a tough one. You would like to have that one back,” said Dalton, who finished 30 of 47 for 361 yards. ”The other ones were just unfortunate things happening in the play. Those are the ones that made a difference because they led to pick six on both of them.”
Dalton didn’t throw another interception and hit Juwan Johnson on a pair of touchdowns, from 1 and 17 yards. Wil Lutz also kicked two field goals.
The Saints’ defense ruined any chance of a comeback.
Kyler Murray hit tight end Chris Dortch for a 5-yard touchdown. After New Orleans pulled within 35-24, Eno Benjamin bulled his way through several tacklers for a 5-yard score.
Benjamin finished with 92 yards rushing, 45 of that on one run. Murray had 204 yards on 20-of-29 passing, hitting Rondale Moore on a 31-yard passing, Keaontay Ingram on another for 24.
”Coaches can only go so far – it has to be on the players,” Saints defensive end Cam Jordan said. ”When it comes down to tackling, there has to be a will wanting to tackle.”
The win ended Arizona’s eight-game home losing streak, longest since 1958.
The loss leaves the Saints still searching for answers.
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