What an absolutely gut wrenching game that was to suffer through. The Saints lose 17-13 despite Carolina being down 13-10 at their own 35 yard line with 55 seconds left and no timeouts. Cam Newton had looked beyond horrid the entire game, some of it due to the conditions, but give him credit he came up with some good throws on that final drive. To be honest the Saints really didn't deserve to be in it with horrific play calling throughout and a really bad job by the offensive line. The Panthers brought pressure all day and Drew Brees so just not on point at all. Despite all this they had a chance because of some miracle catches by Jimmy Graham on a 97 yard improbable touchdown drive late. But the defense, who had been so good all game, couldn't hold up one last time. The loss drops the Saints to 10-5 and they'll need a Cardinals loss or a win at home against the Bucs to secure a playoff spot. Not that I expect much of a playoff spot. This team just doesn't have the offensive line to win right now, plain and simple. There is still an outside chance of an NFC South title and the 2 seed, if Carolina loses next week at Atlanta and the Saints beat the Bucs. I'm not counting on the Falcons to lend a hand at all, though. Here are my brief thoughts:
- Mark Ingram didn't see the ball nearly enough. He was incredibly effective running the ball and yet Sean Payton refused to commit to him. He had 13 carries for 83 yards.
- The Terron Armstead experiment was a complete disaster. He gave up 3 sacks and 2 false starts that I counted. An abominable game from him.
- Horrible rain came down in the 3rd quarter, completely shutting down both team's offenses. Not that the offenses were doing anything before the rain anyway.
- Brees talked about limiting the turnovers, yet he threw two very bad interceptions.
- Can't really blame Drew, though, he had zero time to throw and no one was open. The second half rain really complicated things too. Brees was sacked 6 times, including 5 in the first half.
- Shayne Graham did his job, going 2 for 2, but on a 52 yarder the Saints didn't trust him and instead tried some ridiculous fake field goal play that involved a Luke McCown pass attempt. Terrible.
- The Panthers had 18 carries for 81 yards. One run was 43 yards for a TD. Take that away and it was 17 carries for 38 yards. The Saints stopped the run, give them credit.
- The Panthers were 0-9 on 3rd downs in this game. And won. What the hell?
- Kenny Vaccaro broke his ankle and is done for the season. We could have used him on that final drive.
- Pierre Thomas had 9 touches for 15 yards. The Panthers weren't letting him go anywhere.
- This game felt eerily like the 49ers playoff game and the Patriots game this season. The Saints were down because of turnovers… then you thought they had it miraculously won, only to blow in in the most improbable way in the last seconds due to long drive and poor coverage. Those hurt the most.
- The Saints' defense gave up 222 yards. Before the final drive it was 157. As depressing as that last drive was, hard to blame this on them.
Well, we have the Bucs at home next Sunday and then we're hopefully headed to the playoffs. Until it's over I'm not giving up. I can tell a lot of fans have thrown in the towel on twitter, but it ain't over till it's over. One game at a time. The Saints are probably going to have to be a wild card, so be it. It's been done before. Do I think this team can win the Super Bowl? Absolutely not. But I'm still going to root for them until it's over.