The Saints have tasted some bitter defeats, but Sunday’s 28-25 loss to the Vikings in London may take it to a whole new level.
The Saints did enough to shoot themselves in the foot again. New Orleans lost the turnover battle, 2-1, and was flagged for 10 penalties for 102 yards. That usually gets you beat in close games, and it did so Sunday.
However, two penalties that went against the Saints in Minnesota’s final touchdown drive were far more than questionable, they were downright bad.
And, both came on third and long.
An illegal use of hands call on Tyrann Mathieu gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs on third and 10 at the Minnesota 49. Three plays later, on third and 8, a 40 yard pass interference call on Marshon Lattimore against Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen gave the Vikings the ball at the Saints three yard line.
On the next play, Justin Jefferson ran around the left end for a touchdown.
NFL rules TV analyst MIke Perreira said the Lattimore/Thielen tussle should have been a no-call. And, he was correct. If anything Thielen should have been flagged for offensive interference for grabbing Lattimore’s face mask.
Lattimore had a tough game. But, he also didn’t get enough help from his coaches. With 1:38 to play, Kirk Cousins threw 39 yards to Jefferson to set up the game winning field. Lattimore is your best cover corner, but in that situation, late in the game, he should have had safety help over the top. You can’t let the Vikings best player, beat you in that spot. But that is exactly what happened.
It was also a mistake not to use running back Latavius Murray more. Murray, a decisive one cut runner, had 11 carries for 57 yards. He gave the Saints running attack a huge boost.
Quarterback Andy Dalton played well. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 236 yards, a touchdown and a two point pass.
If Dalton plays solidly, the Saints will win games.
Of course, they need a break or two. The Wil Lutz final field goal attempt of 61 yards went off the left upright, and off the crossbar, back on to the field.
The Saints were that close to sending the game to overtime.
That, they didn’t, make this one of the toughest Saints defeats to swallow, in quite some time.