After Further Review: Saints struggling to find clutch gene

CLEVELAND, OH (WVUE) - No, the 2014 season is not finished.

But yes, the Saints have a problem. And after their second consecutive loss on the final play of the game, it's clear it's a clutch problem.

In the last two weeks the Saints have had chances to beat both Atlanta and Cleveland. But when given the opportunities, they've uncharacteristically failed to take advantage.

On Sunday they were presented with several.

Like in the first quarter when Billy Cundiff doinked a 44-yard field goal off the upright. But Patrick Robinson was flagged for offsides that continued the drive. Cundiff eventually got that three back.

Or when the Saints were marching to win the game in the fourth quarter and are facing a 3rd and 5 and audible to run that could have likely been a first down or at the very least a more manageable field goal. But Coach Payton called a timeout on the sideline before the play began. On the next snap, Brees was sacked for a loss of eight yards out of field goal range.

And of course, the back breaker, with the Browns on the outskirt of field goal range at the Saints' 39-yard line. Andrew Hawkins, somehow, popped wide open, and I stress WIDE OPEN, for Brian Hoyer to connect with down field for 28-yard gain. A better throw would have put Hawkins in the end zone.

It didn't matter. On the next play the Browns won the game on a chip shot 29-yard field goal, 26-24.

"We certainly didn't finish that's the thing that's most disappointing and I'll take responsibility for it," a dejected and somewhat testy Coach Payton said afterwards.

As he should. But he's not alone. Situational play-making falls on everyone. And on this day there was plenty of blame to go around.

Just make the play. It sounds so simple.

But thus far, despite what this roster APPEARS to be, the Saints have been unable to do it.

And they're still winless because of it.

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