Saints lose to Cardinals 30-20 in the desert
The New Orleans Saints started their two-game road trip on Sunday by traveling to Arizona and facing off against an undrafted rookie making his first start in the NFL. They ended their day by walking out of the University of Phoenix Stadium having just being beaten by themselves.
Max Hall led the Arizona Cardinals, sort of, to a 30-20 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints for the first win of his career. Thought it wasn't his stat line or leadership skills that brought victory to a much maligned franchise. Two defensive touchdowns and a recovered fumble for a touchdown by offensive lineman Levi Brown provided the bulk of the scoring for Arizona.
Fourth quarters have belonged to the Saints for years now, but this week it was their Achilles' heel as the Cardinals outscored them 17-7. Even the touchdown by Robert Meachem seemed like a lucky drop right out of Heaven.
Kerry Rhodes scooped up a fumble by running back LaDell Betts and ran it in untouched 27 yards for the first touchdown of the quarter. An earlier field goal by Jay Feely helped the score reach 23-13 Cardinals before the Drew Brees to Meachem connection. New Orleans got one final last ditch chance to get into field goal range, but Brees was picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who returned it 28 yards for the score. It was Brees third interception of the game.
The Saints were plagued by injuries before coming into this game with both starting running backs and a handful of defensive starters sitting out today. That wasn't the reason for the loss though as mistakes appeared to just come right up and bite them every time they started getting into a rhythm.
Max Hall's second pass as a starter was intercepted by Jabari Greer and the Saints turned it into a 31-yard field goal by John Carney. After forcing Arizona to punt on their next possession, the Saints got a one-yard touchdown on a pass from Brees to tight end Jeremy Shockey. It seemed as if the rout was on.
From there the Saints would commit four turnovers and seven penalties totaling 60 yards, but it was so much more than that. New Orleans seemed to have completely uninspired play from that point on which resulted in the Arizona crowd getting much louder and possibly entering the mindset of all those in black and gold.
One would have to question some of the play calling late in the game when the Cardinals went up by 10 points and the Saints only had one time-out remaining. Starting deep in their own territory with only 7:24 seconds to play; the Saints ran on two downs and ended up having to punt after a three-and-out. Arizona then had a three-and-out of their own, but ran close to two very important minutes off the clock.
Meachem's touchdown drew the Saints within 3 points, but then an attempted onside kick was recovered by Arizona and also saw New Orleans so it was a lost cause. The Saints were able to hold and get the ball back with 24 seconds remaining, but Brees' third interception of the day officially ended any chance of a come back.
Image gallery from Cardinals Vs. Saints
It is obvious that missing players such as Tracy Porter, Will Smith, Pierre Thomas, and Reggie Bush is certainly starting to affect the play of the Saints. Things just don't seem to be gelling on the field and one must wonder when a sense of urgency will kick in. Don't think the season is over or that things can't be corrected, but plenty of questions remain unanswered and lots of errors need to be fixed.
Both teams now have 3-2 records after a game that looked like the ultimate mismatch on paper, but ended up going down to who had the momentum and who could make fewer mistakes. New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay next week to face the surprising 3-1 Buccaneers before heading back home against the Cleveland Browns in two weeks. Can the Saints recover from both injuries and mistakes before falling to a .500 record?
Check back in a day or two for my daily "what went right and wrong."
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