NASHVILLE (WGNO) — The Saints, playing without running back Alvin Kamara, two starters on the offensive line, and defensive back CJ Gardner-Johnson went toe to toe with the team with the best record in the AFC.
But, a pair of missed extra points, key penalties, and a fumble on a kickoff return doomed New Orleans in a 23-21 loss at Tennessee.
The Saints fell to 5-4 with their second consecutive loss. Both losses were by two points.
The game was tied at 6, when Demario Davis was flagged for pass interference on third and goal from the Saints six yard line. On the next play, Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill scored on a quarterback sneak. Three plays before the Davis penalty, Saints safety Marcus Williams intercepted Tannehill in the end zone, but the play was nullified by a questionable roughing the passer call on linebacker Kaden Elliss.
To start the third quarter, Deonte Harris fumbled the kickoff. Tennessee recovered and scored on 2 yard pass from Tannehill to MyCole Pruitt.
The Saints pulled to within 23-21 on a 15 yard pass from Trevor Siemian to Marquez Callaway with 1:20 to play.
But, on the subsequent two point try, tight end Adam Trautman was called for a false start. With the ball on the 7 instead of the 2, Siemian’s pass to Mark Ingram fell incomplete.
Head coach Sean Payton was asked about the relevance of the penalty.
“It was significant,” said Payton. “Significant.”
Siemian completed 19 of 34 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns.
Mark Ingram became the Saints all-time leading rushing with 14 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints play at Philadelphia next Sunday.