(WGNO) — As collapses go, in Saints history, this one is right up there.
On a Monday night in 1979, the Saints blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead to the Raiders. One year earlier, there was Big Ben, a last-second loss on a Hail Mary pass by the Falcons.
Monday night’s 17-16 loss at Tampa Bay is certainly in the top five. For the opposition, the Saints are the gift that keeps on giving.
For 57 minutes, the Saints played great football, and controlled the game, leading 16-3.
Then, inexplicably, on 2nd and 20 at the New Orleans 45, Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo let Mike Evans get behind him. Adebo grabbed, and was flagged for pass interference. On the next play, Tom Brady threw one yard to Cade Otton for a touchdown that cut the Saints lead to 16-10.
After a Saints punt, with three seconds left, Brady threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Rashid White to tie the game. The extra point was good, and the Saints fell to 4-9. They are now sadly playing out the string.
The Saints’ play selection down the stretch left a lot to be desired.
With under seven minutes to play, on third and one at the Bucs’ 44, Andy Dalton attempted a slant pass to wide receiver Marquez Callaway. The pass fell incomplete. It was Callaway’s only target of the game. Why throw it, there? And, to a player who had not caught a pass the entire game?
The Saints punted, and the Bucs then drove 10 plays, 91 yards to get back in the game.
On the next Saints possession, on second and seven at their own 28, the Saints pulled three wideouts from the game, including Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry, and put rookie offensive lineman Trevor Penning in the game. Then, out of the jumbo package, the Saints attempted a play-action pass. Andy Dalton was sacked for a ten-yard loss.
Then, on third and 17 from the New Orleans 18, Dalton threw a perfect pass down the middle to Taysom Hill. If he hangs on, the Saints have a big gain and a first down. But, Keanu Neal, with a big hit, jarred the ball loose for an incomplete pass.
The Saints then punted and gave the ball back to Tom Brady.
We know what happened next. An epic collapse. One of the worst in 56 years of Saints football.