After Further Review: Five takes from Saints loss to Packers

Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) lays on the turf with a shoulder injury after being sacked...
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 4:53 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Carr Trouble

At one point in the game it felt like the Saints first 3-0 start in a decade seemed inevitable. The Saints defense opened with a fourth down stop. An offense that was struggling in the red zone, scored a touchdown on their first trip inside the 20. The special teams scored on a punt return. Plus, they closed out with n an impressive 12—play, 82 yard drive. They started that drive with 4:30 on the clock. When it was over, there was six :06. They went into the locker room completely dominating the Packers, 17-0.

But at the 10:51 mark of the third quarter, everything changed. Derek Carr was thrown to the ground on a sack, injured his shoulder and never returned.

The team never felt the same after that. Their next five offensive possessions resulted in five straight punts. With Carr out, the Packers clawed their way to score 18 unanswered and hand the Saints their first loss of the season.

Now the Saints wait to see just how severe Carr’s reported AC sprain in his shoulder is and how long they’ll have to go without their starting quarterback.

Take Two: Where the game was lost

Despite the offensive struggles when Carr went down, the defense stayed stingy and even forced another turnover on downs to start the fourth quarter.

However, the momentum started to shift at the 8:27 mark of the fourth quarter. At that point, the score was 17-3, and the Saints were still firmly in control. Then, Alontae Taylor and Isaac Yiadom were called for back-to-back pass interference penalties, and the Packers suddenly had the ball at the Saints 13-yard line. Seven plays later, Jordan Love ran it into the end zone for Green Bay’s first touchdown of the game. Three plays later, the Saints were punting again, and the Packer had the ball back down, 17-11.

From that point, Love needed nine more plays to give his team the lead for good. At the 2:59 mark, he found Romeo Doubs to put the Packers up, 18-17.

During that 5:28, the Saints went from a comfortable fourth quarter, two-touchdown lead to down one point.

Take Three: Grupe can’t deliver

Despite the offensive ineptitude when Carr went down, the Saints still had a chance in the end, when Jameis Winston was able to take them downfield in seven plays to set up Blake Grupe for the go-ahead field goal.

Grupe has been dynamite all season, but on this Sunday the youngster couldn’t come up clutch. His 46-yard field goal went wide right killing any chance of a Saints victory.

The final miss summed up a dismal set of events to close out an ugly fourth quarter for the Saints in Green Bay.

Take Four: Wasted efforts

The disappointing loss wasted a few outstanding efforts by a few Saints players. Chris Olave once again came down with a highlight reel catch on the sideline that helped set up the team’s final field goal. Olave also had a third down conversion early in the game where he cut back in on a flat route and was able to juke the defender and get a first down. Olave finished with eight receptions for 104 yards. He continues to flash WR #1 potential.

Before his final pass interference, Taylor was having one of the best game of his career. He finished with five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and five pass breakups. Had he gotten his head on one of those PBU’s, he would have also had his first interception. With Paulson Adebo out, Taylor played inside when the Packers were in their three receiver set and out when Green Bay was in their base personnel.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • The Saints are going to have to figure something out with their offensive line. The protection in the passing game is simply not holding up. They allowed four sacks on Sunday, and on all but one the quarterback had no chance.
  • Winston had a few nice throws on that final offensive drive. He also had a couple of near scares with dangerous passes. It’s not the easiest situation to be thrown into. Winston finished 10/16 for 101 yards. If he has to start against Tampa Bay, hopefully he’ll improve with the week of practice to prepare.
  • The Saints only ran the ball nine times in the second half despite being up two scores for a lot of it.
  • The loss hurts, but at 2-1 the Saints are still in a very good position with winnable games ahead.

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