The New Orleans Saints have spent an inordinate amount of time getting in their own way this season and, unfortunately, that again proved to be the case on Thursday night, in a 42-34 loss to Arizona at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az.
Turnovers on offense and missed tackles on defense again were major culprits for the Saints (2-5), who have done more damage to themselves than all opponents combined this season.
OFFENSE: In the end, there were some outstanding numbers to peruse. New Orleans rolled up 494 yards of offense, 25 first downs, converted 6 of 13 third-down attempts and was successful on three of its five trips to the red zone. Quarterback Andy Dalton (30 of 47 for 361 yards and four touchdowns) had his most productive statistical outing of his four starts. But Dalton also threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns and another in the end zone. Two directly led to Cardinals points, and one directly took away Saints points. New Orleans essentially had to abandon the run game because of the turnovers and the early deficit (28-14 at halftime because of the interception returns), and the imbalance was noticeable.
DEFENSE: Overall, the numbers weren't bad: 326 yards allowed, seven stops on 10 third-down attempts and a couple of sacks. But when Coach Dennis Allen opened his postgame press conference by noting that the tackling again was an issue, and the opponent converts three of four red-zone chances into touchdowns, all is not well. Plus, the Saints' defense again didn't force a turnover and the unit has to be more productive in that area. The Cardinals didn't have to take many chances because once they scored twice on interception returns and took a double-digit lead, there wasn't a need to do so. But New Orleans again saw a third-and-10 conversion on defense, and it simply hasn't been as stout as it needs to be in favorable down-and-distance situations.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Another pair of field goals for kicker Wi lLutz, who now has connected on six straight and clearly is in a groove. But no game-altering plays from the unit, whether in the return game or in the punt-block area. Probably isn't fair to put that kind of pressure on the unit, but when it's going the way it's going for the Saints, all avenues of contribution have to chip in.