Saints recent playoff misery falls at feet of the offense
It is the worst kind of three and out.
For the Saints, a third straight playoff loss at home was likely the end of a 15-year stay as the Saints quarterback for Drew Brees, who is expected to soon announce his retirement.
There’s a common thread in those three losses. It’s lack of offensive production.
In those three home defeats to the Rams, Vikings, and Bucs, the Saints scored a total of 63 points. New Orleans had seven turnovers to just two for the opposition in those defeats.
The first quarter of the 30-20 loss to the Bucs looked a lot like the first quarter of the loss to the Rams in the NFC championship game. The Saints had possessions at the five-yard line and the 24-yard line of Tampa Bay that ended with field goals.
In the NFC Championship, the Saints had two first quarter red zone possessions that ended in field goals.
In last January’s playoff loss to the Vikings, the Saints forced a Minnesota fumble. New Orleans drove to the Vikings’ four-yard line before Brees was sacked. The Saints settled for a field goal.
Finish, is what the coaches say. The Saints, at home, didn’t finish three years in a row.
You can’t ask much more of the defense.
The Bucs ran 69 plays and had only 316 yards of offense.
The Saints, unlike the second game between the two teams this season in Tampa, were unable to pin their ears back and get to the quarterback.
Tom Brady was sacked once, and the Saints were credited with three quarterback hurries. Brady relied on short throws underneath to thwart the New Orleans pass rush.
Running back Leonard Fournette was targeted six times with five receptions.
Tight end Cameron Brate was the Bucs second leading receiver with four receptions for 50 yards.
The Saints were hurt when they lost dynamic wide receiver and kick returner Deonte Harris to injury in the first half. But when your best game break option on offense is your return man, you have a problem.
The Bucs were able to play tight coverage on Saints receivers and dare them to beat them downfield.
New Orleans was unable.
If you want to see what offensive efficiency looks like, check out the current version of the Green Bay Packers.
Against the Rams, the top defense in the league, the Packers had 484 total yards and went 8-for-12 on third down.
The Packers held the ball for more than 36 minutes. They controlled the football and made big plays.
My guess is the Bucs will experience that cold efficiency in the cold of Green Bay next Sunday.
That the Saints won’t be making the trip is disappointing. A big reason why is because when opportunity knocked early, New Orleans didn’t answer.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…