Close but no cigar. The Saints fell to the 49ers in what was essentially the game of the year. The game was back and forth from the jump. Robbie Gould would win the game on a 30 yard field goal. There were some good moments, a lot of bad and a few down right ugly moments. This time around, we do not need to review the film. We will point out everything that transpired based on all three phases. Let us get into it:
This was the best game for the Saints offense this year. They were clicking on all cylinders from the start. Drew Brees had a field day accounting for six touchdowns. Michael Thomas did his part with 11 catches for 134 yards and a score. Jared Cook continued to play hot with two catches for 64 yards and both being touchdowns. Sadly, he left the game with a concussion. The best part was that Brees was not sacked for the second straight week. That is a big win against the top ranked defense.
However, there were several concerns as well. Alvin Kamara is just not himself this year at all. He averaged less than two yards a carry and was held in check in the pass game. This also brings up the judgement of Sean Payton’s play calling and time sharing. Latavius Murray was averaging near ten yards on the ground but did not see the field much in the second half. There was also a drive where Taysom Hill saw the field more the Brees. We do not understand the reasoning behind this. When a player is hot, keep feeding the ball. To top it off, the decision to go for two was costly. Instead of going for one, they failed to convert and they ended up losing by two.
Even when the offense has their best game and everyone gets involved, there are still too many questions to be answered.
Where do we even start? This was the absolute worst performance by the Saints defense this year. We have to give credit to Kyle Shanahan and his play calling this game. They came out the gate passing the ball and the Saints were not ready. Eli Apple got picked on majority of the game. They gave too many big plays and got ran on pretty well. Also, they had costly penalties that extended one drive in particular, although one call was highly questionable. Regardless, they were in a position to win and could not stop the 49ers offense.
The biggest concern for me was Dennis Allen. There were too many times the corner we playing off and it killed us. I do not understand why you play that coverage with two of your best corners better at playing man up. Also, not having Kiko Alonso and AJ Klein really hurt them in this game. Alex Anzalone was missed dearly in a big game like this. The defensive line was able to sack Jimmy Garoppolo three times, including a big one by Vonn Bell late in the game. The defense has been hot and cold since the bye week. They need to get it together for the home stretch with the top seed still in play.
This unit was the best one on the field today. Deonte Harris was a difference maker. He had several big returns on kickoffs and averaged 18.5 yards on punt returns. He even had a couple of plays on offense to move the chains. Wil Lutz continued to be great. He made two field goals and four extra points. He came in the clutch like he always does and we are truly thankful. Thomas Morstead had an easy day and only punted once.
The Saints played like the team we did not want to see. The offense had did everything right only to have the defense lay a big goose egg. This game had the vibe of the Tampa game from last year. It is a heartbreaking loss but the top seed is still in play. They have to win out and hope that the 49ers, Packers and Seahawks lose at least one game. They have the Colts next week, whose playoff hopes are almost over. It is time to hunker down and finish the season strong.