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Another across-the-board slow start dooms New Orleans Saints in loss to Minnesota Vikings

Saints finished with 280 yards of offense, defense allowed 24 first-half points

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season.

Minneapolis – The New Orleans Saints have talked, and talked, and talked about getting off to quicker starts, having more energy early and using that to construct a complete game.

None of those things happened Sunday in a 27-19 loss to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. None of those things came close to happening, as the Saints' two-game winning streak ended and their record evened to 5-5 entering their bye week.

New Orleans finished the game without receiver link-placeholder-0, quarterback Derek Carr(right shoulder, concussion) and cornerback link-placeholder-2. But then, the Saints didn't do much when each was available, either.

OFFENSE: The unit puttered about for the better part of three quarters before showing some spark. But 280 yards of offense and coming up dry 10 times in 14 third-down attempts is a recipe for disaster. Jameis Winstoncame in for the injured Carr and the offense perked up with a couple of Winston touchdown passes, to Chris Olave and A.T. Perry, and two-point conversion runs by Alvin Kamara. But a 27-3 deficit is too much to expect an offense to overcome. New Orleans had to abandon the running game (15 carries for 65 yards) because of its early deficit (24-3 at halftime). No one expected this offense to struggle to score the way it has in the first 10 games.

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DEFENSE: Strong second-half finishes (three points allowed) sometimes are wiped away with the opposing offense has its way during a 24-point first half, as was the case Sunday. The Saints couldn't solve Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs, who completed 23 of 34 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 44 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He's the latest mobile quarterback to give the Saints fits defensively, and it really is past time for the defense to solve that equation. The Vikings were balanced offensively (125 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries) and New Orleans couldn't get Minnesota off the field enough in the first half, when the game was decided. Dobbs was pressured, but he only was sacked once and routinely extended plays.

SPECIAL TEAMS: On a day when New Orleans could have used some field-flipping on special teams, it didn't happen. Granted, that expectation may not be a realistic one weekly, but it's nice to have that in the arsenal from time to time. Kicker Blake Grupe made a 48-yard field-goal attempt, so that was encouraging, but everything else was fairly nondescript.

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