Saints fail late in all three phases, blow 17-point lead to fall at Green Bay

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The last time the New Orleans Saints were 3-0 was in 2013. That is still the case.

It was the home opener for the Green Bay Packers, who had won 10 straight home openers. That streak is now 11.

For the longest, it did not look like that would be the case. This is one that will sting for a while. You simply cannot blow a 17-0 lead in the fourth quarter, at home or away.

The New Orleans Saints did just that.

The defense, great for three quarters, failed miserably in the fourth quarter.

The offense, efficient enough, lost its quarterback and failed miserably after that occurred.

A rookie kicker whom the franchise believed in and who had made all six field goals to date, missed a potential game-winner, a very makeable 46-yard field goal attempt with the game on the line.

That would signify a total failure in all three phases in a total collapse.

Then, there is the play of what is, to this point, a poor offensive line. It is not one player. It is a collective failure up front which contributed strongly to Derek Carr getting injured. That offensive line has now yielded 12 sacks and many more pressures and hits on New Orleans quarterbacks and has not been all that good in the run game, either. New Orleans rushed for just 77 yards.

Here are my Quick Takes from the 18-17 Saints loss at Green Bay:

**The Saints were banged up, without starting cornerback Paulson Adebo and starting safety Marcus Maye, along with starting tight end Foster Moreau. Of course, Alvin Kamara was still out and Jamaal Williams was placed on injured reserve.

**The Packers were truly banged up, missing star corner Jaire Alexander on defense, along with running back Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari and wide receiver Christian Watson. Guard Elgton Jenkins remained out as well.

**Inactives for the Saints included Adebo, Moreau, AT Perry, Kyle Phillips and Nick Saldiveri.

**The Packers won the toss, deferred, and kicked off to the Saints.

**The Saints did nothing, going backwards on the possession as Tony Jones gained no yards on the first play, Derek Carr threw behind Michael Thomas on the second play and Carr was sacked when Kenny Clark went around Erik McCoy on third down for a sack. Carr had no chance.

**Green Bay opened its first possession with a holding penalty and a false start. On fourth-and-two from the New Orleans 44-yard line, Packers coach Matt Lafleur gambled, went for it, and called a trick play. After handoff to Emanuel Wilson, Jordan Love got it back on a low throwback, picked it up and hurriedly threw incomplete to an open Dontayvion Wicks, giving the Saints the ball at their own 42-yard line, changing field position.

**The Saints took advantage of the field position, driving 55 yards in nine plays, aided by a personal foul on Clark. On third-and-goal, Carr threw a strike to Jimmy Graham, who used his 6-7 frame to shield ther defender from the ball, made the catch and had an 8-yard touchdown, his first as a Saint since 2014, to give New Orleans a 7-0 lead with 6:40 to play in the opening quarter. It was Graham’s first touchdown catch as a Saint since Dec. 21 against the Falcons. The gap between the scores was eight years, 277 days.

**Graham did it for his former team, now his current team, against another of his former teams in the Packers, whom he played for in 2018 and 2019. It is what the Saints got Graham for. Graham reunited himself with Packers fans, choosing to do the “Lambeau Leap” into the stands. A couple of Green Bay fans were actually receptive.

**It is what the Saints got Graham for, to use his size in the red zone.

**Bryan Bresee helped stop the next Packers possession by tipping a pass by Love to force a punt.

**James Hurst was flagged for holding then Rashan Gary whipped Ryan Ramczyk for a sack. to kill the next possession for the Saints.

**Cesar Ruiz went down injured, entering concussion protocol, and Andrus Peat entered the game at left guard with Hurst moving to right guard.

**Rashid Shaheed made another huge play with his elite speed, returning a punt 76 yards for a touchdown to give New Orleans a 14-0 lead with 10:30 to play in the first half.

**It was the first punt return for a score for the Saints since Sept. 22, 2019 when Deonte Harris returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown in a 33-27 win at Seattle.

**Alontae Taylor broke up two passes on the next possession then got a huge sack of Love on a blitz to take the Packers out of field goal range. It was the first sack of Taylor’s young career.

**The Saints finished the half in excellent fashion, driving 82 yards in 14 plays, using 4:24 and running the game clock down to six seconds. Unfortunately, they could not finish the drive and Blake Grupe remained perfect on the season, kicking a 25-yard field goal to give New Orleans a 17-0 halftime lead.

**The Saints rushed seven times for 39 yards on the drive, getting the run game going, but the big play was a good throw by Carr and an even better catch by Olave, with one hand, on a 27-yard completion to the Green Bay 7-yard line. It was the second straight week Carr and Olave combined on a deep ball, one-handed catch.

**The last time Green Bay was shut out in a home opener was Sept. 9, 2018 when Chicago took a 17-0 halftime lead but the Packers rallied to win 24-23.

**Carr was 11 of 16 for 96 yards and a touchdown in the half. Olave had four catches for 51 yards. The Saints had 131 yards to 115 for the Packers. Michael Thomas did not have a catch in the half.

**Lonnie Johnson Jr. picked off Love on the opening possession of the second half.

**The Saints then had a third and nine from midfield and Carr was sacked again by Gary. This time, he stayed down after banging his head and shoulder on the turf and left with a shoulder injury, taken to the locker room. It was the 11th sack of Carr already this season.

**Jameis Winston entered the game for the Saints.

**Love finally made a play, going deep for Romeo Doubs, who made an outstanding catch on a 30-yard gain over Tyrann Mathieu, to the New Orleans 21-yard line. Green Bay, inexplicably, passed on a field goal, needing three scores, and failed on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Saints.

**Green Bay finally got on the board on a 38-yard field goal by Anders Carlson with 11 minutes to play in the game to cut the deficit to 17-3. Green Bay drove 46 yards in seven plays, taking 1:50 off the clock.

**Michael Thomas got an obvious holding call on a first-down run by Taysom Hill. Then, Landon Young got smoked by Gary for another sack.

**Love then attacked the Saints deep and got two huge penalties. First, Taylor was flagged for a 45-yard pass interference penalty before Isaac Yiadom was flagged for a 22-yard pass interference penalty.

**Green Bay then drove 80 yards in seven plays, taking just 1:29 to pull within six points as Love ran 1 yard for a score on a read option play on fourth-and-goal. Lafleur then elected to go for two and got it as Love hit a wide open Samori Toure to make it 17-11 with 6:58 to play in the game.

**The Saints did nothing, punting for a fifth straight time, and that led to the Packers taking their first lead of the game.

**Green Bay drove 80 yards in nine plays with Love hitting Doubs on an 8-yard touchdown pass over Yiadom and the extra point made it 18-17 with 2:56 to play in the game. Love earlier scrambled 24 yards for a first down on the drive.

**The Saints had a chance to salvage the game, with Winston finally getting something going on an eight play, 47-yard drive which reached the Green Bay 28-yard line.

**Grupe was called upon and looked the part of a rookie, pushing the field goal attempt wide right and it was game over.

The loss conjured up many memories of similar collapses.

Remember the fourth quarter collapse at Tampa Bay in Tom Brady’s final season.

It was similar, with the offense simply not scoring enough and the defense finally giving it up.

Regardless of the defensive shortcomings in the fourth quarter, the Saints still held an opponent to 20 points or fewer for the 11th straight game.

You have to win games when that happens.

The Saints have lost five of those 11 games because they simply cannot score.

In three games, New Orleans is averaging just 17.7 points per game. That is simply not good enough.

Dating back to last season, the most the Saints have scored in a game is 21 points in their last nine games. That is simply not good enough.

One wonders how it would have turned out if Carr had stayed healthy.

Now, we wait to see just how badly Carr is injured. It could alter the trajectory of what looked like a promising season deep into this game.

Now, the Saints must dig deep to overcome one of the worst losses in recent memory and to overcome the possible loss of their franchise quarterback for a period of time. Let us hope the latter is not long, if at all.

If it is, the odds are long that the Saints will achieve a winning season or division title, as was predicted by oddsmakers and observers alike. That’s the long and short of it. The Saints came up short in Green Bay and the memories will be long for fans but cannot be long for players and coaches.

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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