After Further Review: Five takes on Saints loss to Bengals
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Saints played well enough to win
The Saints played well enough to beat the Bengals Sunday. Plain and simple. They won the turnover battle. They rushed for over 200 yards and won time of possession. They only had four penalties and converted nearly 50 percent of their third downs. They truly had the Bengals on their heels most of the game.
In most games, the team that plays the best overall game wins it. But there are cases where a team outplays their opponent and still ends up on the losing end of the scoreboard.
That was the case for the Saints Sunday. Now they’re 2-4, and looking to regroup despite having one of their best efforts of the season.
Take Two: Red zone woes
This game really boiled down to the red zone. The Saints offense got inside the 20-yard line five times and only came away with one touchdown. Their first two drives in the second half went a combined 28 plays and ate up over 15 minutes of clock. Yet, the Saints could only muster two field goals out of both. By the time the last one ended in a field goal, there was a nervousness in the air that scoring threes instead of sevens would eventually catch up to them.
Meanwhile, the Bengals didn’t let a trip inside the 20 slip through their grasp. They got in the red zone three times and scored three touchdowns.
Take Three: Stars step up
Sunday was the perfect example of the old Jimmy’s and Joe’s versus x’s and o’s debate. The Saints out-schemed the Bengals, but in the end their star players stepped up when they had to. The Saints simply didn’t have nearly as many stars available.
The Saints blitzed Joe Burrow on a third and nine early in the game. It looked like Burrow had no chance, yet somehow as the pocket collapsed around him and in front of him, he was able to slip through and run for a 19-yard score.
In the third quarter, Burrow saw off coverage on Ja’Marr Chase from Paulson Adebo, and wasted no time going right to him on his inside route to cut the Saints to two.
The final dagger came after the Bengals final possession. It only took one play, because Chase took a 10-yard route from Burrow and turned it into a sixty-yard touchdown to give the Bengals their first, and only lead of the game.
Those were just the touchdowns, there were others. Like when Burrow escaped Pete Werner and Demario Davis on a third down and connected downfield for a first, or when Bradley Roby had outstanding coverage on Chase on a third down, yet Chase was able to wrestle the ball away from him and convert.
In the end, the Bengals best players played the best, and they escaped with a win because of it.
Take Four: Dominant run game
Thirty-four carries, 228 yards, 6.7 yards per carry.
Those were the Saints final rushing numbers. Between Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill, they were truly dominant on the ground for the second game in a row.
In the NFL, it’s rare to have that kind of success running the football. It’s even rarer to lose a game when a team is clearly dominating the line of scrimmage the way the Saints were in the game.
As the Saints process this lose, this has to be the most frustrating part.
Take Five: Other Observations
- The most overblown storyline leading up to this was the concern that the crowd would be split because of Burrow and Chase’s obvious connection to Louisiana. That turned out to be completely wrong. Anyone in the Superdome Sunday heard a very pro-Saints crowd.
- Incredible burst from Rashid Shaheed on his first NFL touch that resulted in a 44-yard touchdown. Shaheed was so fast, Dalton needed quick hands to get that handoff executed in time as Shaheed ran past him in motion.
- Speaking of Dalton and Shaheed, the two nearly connected on the second play of the game, but the ball sailed on Dalton. Shaheed had a step on Eli Apple.
- As for the last play of the game, I didn’t think it was pass interference on Apple. It looked like he tripped.
- Hill threw more than he had all season and finished 2/4 for a couple of first downs. He went deep as well, but the ball was knocked away. On the ground, Hill’s best run came on a zone read where he gained 31 yards.
- On that big Hill run, Adam Trautman was rolled up on. On the next play, Trautman tried to motion but collapsed. It was the first time I’d ever seen that happen in a game. Trautman tried to come back but ended up getting injured again.
- On the Bengals first touchdown, it appeared the Saints were showing a lot of respect to Chase. It may have been too much as Werner stayed on Chase too long when he passed him off to Mathieu. Joe Mixon cut right where the space was vacated by Werner.
- Great play by Andrew Dowell to force the fumble on the punt that set up the Saints first touchdown.
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