Observations From The Cheap Seats
The New Orleans Saints glass you drink from this week will depend largely on your taste.
Currently if you are a Who Dat, you are still sick to your stomach over watching what was easily one of the most gut-wrenching defeats in some time. The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos are not the team they were last year, but they are still an upper tier team in the NFL, with a vicious defense. The Saints knew they had their work cut out for them.
Work they did, right down to the wire; only to have the sweet bells of victory drowned out by the clanging gongs of defeat. It’s one thing to lose – we’re Saints fans; we’ve grown to know the feel of defeat over our 50 years of fandom. But the manner of losing – rallying back from a deficit, tying the game late and only needing a point after to take a lead… and then the ugly – that’s what makes it hard to digest. Here are our observations from the cheap seats.
The game began in not the most kind of ways for the Saints. Denver’s defense has been hampered by injuries lately, but they showed no sign of that on this Sunday. As well, the Bronco offense has been maligned for not working the ball up the field. Sometimes playing a suspect Saints defense is the elixir for what is ailing a sluggish offense though. The Denver offense didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard, but they did take advantage of a still growing Saints defense. Denver got on the board first and looked like the better team in the first half forcing several Saints punts. However, the Saints got a turnover, the first of a couple and at least got on the board before halftime.
After a late first half Sterling Moore interception, the Saints marched 50 yards in 29 seconds and put up a Wil Lutz field goal to get on the scoreboard at halftime. The Saints came out after halftime having made some defensive adjustments and truly got after Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian in the second half, hitting him often and disrupting the flow of Denver’s offense. As well the offense found their rhythm and scored on their first possession, tying the game. Denver was picked off again on their second possession of the second half and the momentum had completely swung the Saints direction as they scored again taking a 17-10 lead that they held into the 4th quarter.
After a Denver TD tied the game midway through the 4th quarter, two Saints turnovers turned into 6 Broncos points and the Saints were behind 23-17, with 2:50 left in the game. An excellent, methodical drive by the Saints culminated in a Brees to Brandin Cooks TD with 1:30 left to play. All that was left was a simple point after. But nothing is so simple.
Denver’s Justin Simmons hurdled long snapper Justin Drescher without contacting him and blocked Wil Lutz’ point after attempt. Will Parks picked up the blocked kick and returned it down the sideline for a 2 point conversion for Denver, giving them a 2 point lead instead of the Saints having a 1 point advantage. Controversy ensued on the return as it seemed very much like Parks stepped on the out of bounds line during the return, which would have negated the 2 points and the play would simply have been dead at the point where he stepped out; the game would have been tied and the Saints would have still been kicking off to Denver.
The onside kick failed and the game ended woefully, with such a low after such a high. Depressing is an understatement…
Observations from the Cheap Seats:
Glass half full, or half empty?
Overall, you have to choose which glass to look at… The half full glass says the Saints lost by only 2 to the defending Super Bowl champions; they got a decent defensive effort with 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. They staged a solid comeback and kept Denver’s defense at bay for the most part. The defense looked improved and got some pressure for once. Atlanta lost so our division is still not out of reach. Carolina lost and is playing on the same short week as us.
The half empty glass says we turned the ball over 4 times. We were sluggish and inefficient the entire first half. Credit them for playing good defense. But if you’re one of the best offenses in the league, you’ve got to get on the board with more than a field goal before halftime. We beat ourselves and shot ourselves in the foot a few times.
Yes, the officiating was suspect. Yes, Denver’s Parks probably did step on the line on that return for 2 points. But we should never have been in that situation. We did so many of the things we needed to do to win a football game and still lost. The Black and Gold are better than they were in Week 1 against Oakland. But they’re still looking like a .500 football team at best.
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