Saints offense again stumbles in loss to Cowboys

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Nick Vannett, Osa Odighizuwa
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

Once again, the New Orleans Saints went into Thursday night’s game with Dallas very short-handed, without way too many starters.

The Cowboys were without their head coach and a few others.

The former mattered more than the latter.

Dan Quinn, who faced the Saints twice a year annually as the head coach of the Falcons, took over and his team handled the team he knows very well.

Of course, that team he faced is a far cry from the one that used to riddle his Atlanta team with regularity.

When you throw three interceptions on three consecutive possessions, the roof is going to cave in.

Fortunately, the roof to Caesars Superdome remained intact but the New Orleans Saints offense is in shambles and its season is quickly heading in that direction.

Here are my Quick Takes from the 27-17 Dallas victory over New Orleans.

**Alvin Kamara, along with starting tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead were out for the game. Jordan Mills and James Hurst opened at the tackle spots.

**The Cowboys won the toss and deferred, giving the Saints the ball first.

**The Saints got something going on their second possession, thanks to a 25-yard completion from Taysom Hill to Lil’Jordan Humphrey but Brett Maher missed a 56-yard field goal wide right.

**Dallas got it going, traveling 80 yards in six plays, taking 3:16 off the clock with Dak Prescott hitting Michael Gallup with a 1-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 with 59 seconds left in the first quarter. On the drive, Prescott connected with Amari Cooper for 41 yards and Ceedee Lamb ran 33 yards to the 1-yard line.

**Juwan Johnson caught a 27-yard pass for a first down late in the first quarter on a bullet of a throw by Hill but injured his neck on the play.

**New Orleans answered with a 75-yard drive in seven plays, taking 3:05 to score on a 24-yard pass from Hill to Lil’Jordan Humphrey to tie the game 7-7 with 12:54 to play in the half.

**Hill was superb on the drive, hitting Johnson, rushing nine yards on a scramble for a first down, hitting Deonte Harris for nine yards and completing the drive with the scoring toss to Humphrey, who popped wide open on the play.

**Dallas recaptured the lead at 10-7 on a 55-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein with 9:04 to play in the first half. The Cowboys drove 38 yards in seven plays, the big play being a 26-yard completion to Lamb from Prescott.

**New Orleans then mounted a drive to the Dallas 26-yard line but Jayron Kearse intercepted a deep ball by Hill, intended for Kenny Stills. Kearse made a great catch on a ball below his knees and touched both feet down just inside the boundary.

**Dallas extended the lead to 13-7 by halftime. The Cowboys kept the ball for the final 2:19 of the half, driving 79 yards in 12 plays with Zuerlein booting a 34-yard field goal.

**Prescott finished the half 19-of-24 for 177 yards and a touchdown.

**Hill ended the half 12-of-21 for 144 yards and a touchdown with an interception.

**New Orleans forced a 3-and-out to start the third quarter and the offense then drove 55 yards in 11 plays before the drive stalled and Maher hit a 42-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 13-10 with 8:26 to play in the third quarter.

**On the drive, Hill ran the ball four times for 41 yards and did not complete a pass. After reaching the Dallas 24-yard line, the Saints went to the passing game and Hill threw incomplete on three straight downs, setting up the field goal.

**Garrett Griffin was flagged for a “blindside block” in pass protection to force a punt midway through the third quarter. It was one of the worst calls you will ever see. Griffin was pass protecting on the edge for Taysom Hill. The call negated a first down completion to Deonte Harris. It made no sense at all.

**Dallas opened up its biggest lead, driving 71 yards in four plays, scoring on a 58-yard run by Tony Pollard on a simple toss sweep to make it 20-10 with 3:55 to play in the third quarter.

**Marshon Lattimore kept the Saints in the game with an interception midway through the fourth quarter on a poor throw by Prescott, who was pressured.

**That bright light lasted for a flashing moment as Damontae Kazee intercepted Hill to all but put the game away.

**On the next possession, Hill was intercepted by Trevon Diggs, who leads the NFL in that category.

**Then, Hill was picked off by Carlos Watkins, who returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-10.

**Hill gained a measure of redemption, albeit it very little, when he hit Harris on a short route and Harris turned it into a 70-yard touchdown catch and run to make it 27-17 with 2:32 to play in the game.

Hill had four career interceptions entering the game. He matched that in one contest.

Hill finished with a career high in rushing yards with 101 yards on 11 carries. Hill also went over the 1,000 yard rushing mark for his New Orleans career, the 28th player in franchise history to do so.

Taysom Hill is a fine football player who can make plays in the run game, catching the ball and throwing an occasional pass.

Is there any doubt now that he is not a starting quarterback in the NFL?

Any confidence was erased with the three fourth quarter interceptions. When you go 19-of-41 with four interceptions in the NFL, that is a bad, make that a very bad day or night, despite the fact that a poor receiving corps dropped four passes.

Any confidence that the Saints can make a run late this season may not have been erased but was impacted greatly on this night.

By game’s end, Dallas fans had taken over Caesars Superdome with chants of “let’s go Cowboys.” Such is the former home field advantage which has completely dissipated.

Losers of five straight games and now 5-7, the Saints will limp into New Jersey to take on the Jets next week. Will they get any of their walking wounded back?

If not, this season will end much earlier than it has since 2016.

Then again, with the quarterback situation as it is, even returning players will have to provide help, make that a lot of help to whomever is taking snaps if this team is to improve.

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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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