The New Orleans Saints couldn't overcome three first half turnovers - two for pick-sixes - and dropped a 42-34 decision to the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The loss dropped the Saints to 2-5. Arizona improved to 3-4.
"I don't think we played good on defense, our tackling was shoddy again," Coach Dennis Allen said. "The three takeaways were killers in the game."
The game turned with 2 minutes and 28 seconds to play in the first half when Saints receiver Marquez Callaway dropped a pass that was then returned 38 yards for a touchdown by Marco Wilson. On the next possession Saints quarterback Andy Dalton was hit while passing and linebacker Isaiah Simmons intercepted the ball and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. In less than a minute a 14-6 Saints lead turned into a 28-14 Arizona lead. In the first quarter a promising 15-play drive ended when Dalton's pass was intercepted in the end zone. Dalton, making his fourth start for New Orleans, finished 30 of 47 for 361 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Arizona added two second half touchdown to score more than 40 points for the first time in more than five years.
The Saints played without four offensive starters - receiver Jarvis Landry, receiver Michael Thomas, guard Andrus Peat and tight end Adam Trautman - and a fifth who dressed but only as an emergency third quarterback (Jameis Winston). The Saints also didn't have starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo or rotational defensive end Payton Turner and quickly lost cornerback Bradley Roby to an ankle injury in the first quarter. Receiver Tre'Quan Smith left the game late in the fourth quarter.
Rookie receiver Rashid Shaheed was a bright spot as he scored the game's first touchdown on a 53-yard reception, his second score in two games. Running back Alvin Kamara had 11 carries for 49 yards and seven receptions for 56 yards and receiver Chris Olave had seven receptions for 106 yards as he returned to the lineup. Tight end Taysom Hill had a 3-yard touchdown reception and completed two passes for 48 yards. Tight end Juwan Johnson had 17-yard and 1-yard touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter.
The Saints will play host to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Caesars Suoerdome.
"Frustrated, but not despondent," Allen said on the mind-set of the team. "Everything that we want to accomplish is still out there in front of us and I'm fully confident that this team will put together a string of wins and turn things around."