For the most part, after the matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots, the game was pretty evenly balanced. In terms of passing yards, rushing yards, total yards and total drives, both teams had similar days. Differences did include the Saints sacking Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady a total of five times for a loss of 34-yards compared New England’s defense sacking Drew Brees only once for a loss of six yards. The other noticeable difference was in the penalties category, however.
The Saints’ offense and defense combined for a total of seven penalties for 56 yards, compared to New England’s four penalties and 33-yards. In a game such as this, where both teams put up similar numbers in multiple categories, either one or the others offense, defense or special teams needs to edge the other out to come away with a victory.
In this case, it was the Patriots’ defense that edged out the New Orleans’ offense.
Although the Saints’ defense gave up 376-yards to New England’s offense, it also gave Brees and head coach Sean Payton the ball back with under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter with a 27-23 lead. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had to have thought that by getting the ball back for Payton and Brees in the fourth quarter with a touchdown necessary to win, that he had done his job.
Unfortunately for Saints fans, that was not the case. Brady was able to drive his Patriots down the field and score a last-second touchdown to receiver Kenbrell Thompkins to essentially win the game and hand New Orleans their first loss of the season.
I do not see this so much as a defensive loss, or a team loss, but rather I saw an offense that could not close the game out after their defense made a potentially game-changing interception late in the fourth quarter. This is not to worry, however, as the Saints have a bye week coming up and will host the Buffalo Bills coming out of their bye in Week 8. Payton and company will be able to walk away from this loss and improve where they need to.