Check out the Saints vs. Lions action at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In fairness to the New Orleans Saints' defense, the numbers in a 15-point loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday didn't tell the complete story.
Twenty-eight points and 422 yards allowed weren't the best indicators of a defensive effort in which the Saints held Detroit to 1 of 5 touchdown conversions in the red zone, or of a unit that forced the Lions to kick five field goals in a 28-13 victory for Detroit.
But there was one defensive lapse that proved quite critical.
After Saints fullback John Kuhnscored on a 1-yard run to pull New Orleans to within 19-13 with 13:32 left, there was a buzz in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for many of the 73,137 fans that hadn't had much to buzz about. New Orleans was one score behind after having limited the Lions to 32- and 27-yard field goals by Matt Praterin the third quarter.
And on the ensuing offensive possession by Detroit, the Saints had worked themselves into a favorable defensive position. After surrendering 12 yards on the first two plays of the possession, a 6-yard run and 6-yard reception by running back Theo Riddick, New Orleans came up with a couple of stops on first and second down. On first down, quarterback Matthew Staffordthrew incomplete down the left side for receiver Golden Tateand on second down, the Saints nearly got off the field with a turnover: defensive end Cam Jordanbatted Stafford's pass attempt in the air, and almost intercepted it on the rebound attempt.
Armed with that extra opportunity, the Lions took advantage.
On third-and-10 the Saints blitzed and the rush almost got to Stafford in time. He was slammed almost simultaneously as he released a pass down the right sideline. Unfortunately for the Saints, Tate was wide open.
He'd slipped behind cornerback B.W. Webband in front of late-arriving safety Vonn Bell. Tate caught the pass 29 yards down the field, and cut back toward the middle of the field past Bell as he outran the defenders the final 37 yards of his 66-yard touchdown. That gave the Lions a two-score lead (25-13) with 11:38 left even though they failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
True, there remained time for the Saints offense to strike back. But Sunday's game was one in which, prior to Tate's touchdown, very little had been done by the Saints offensively to suggest they had two more touchdown drives in them. And the defense, for all the bending it had done without breaking, finally had one big lapse that it couldn't afford to have.