Nashville, Tenn. – As much or more than an opposing cleat, the New Orleans Saints are stumbling over their own.
For the second consecutive week, a defeat was as attributable to New Orleans' own errors as it was to the opponents' execution. On Sunday, it was a 23-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.
The Saints (5-4) have their first two-game losing streak this season, and will try to end it against Philadelphia in a week. The Saints, again, will find their own fingerprints on the loss during the film breakdown.
OFFENSE: Minus running back Alvin Kamara, New Orleans was fairly representative offensively. The Saints totaled 373 yards, was 5 of 12 on third down, was 3 of 4 in the red zone and didn't commit a turnover. The lack of scoring in the first half has been troublesome (three points against Atlanta in the first half, six in the first half against Tennessee), but the second halves have been adrenaline rushes (22 fourth-quarter points against Atlanta, 15 second-half points against Tennessee). Faster starts are needed, but the offense has been effective enough when it has needed to be. The penalties have to cease, though. A five-yard penalty preceding a two-point attempt is about the worst time to have a penalty, and it's an issue that the Saints have to sort through, now.
DEFENSE: Again, nothing to be overly disturbed about from this unit. The Saints limited Tennessee to two touchdowns on five trips inside the red zone, which is plenty good enough, and just 3 of 12 on third down. Too, the unit only allowed 264 yards. A couple of red-zone penalties on one drive were costly (roughing the passer on an end zone interception, pass interference at the goal line), helping the Titans to a touchdown. And the short-field score that they allowed after halftime, when Deonte Harris fumbled the kickoff to open the third quarter, was another back-against-the-wall situation. But all in all, even with allowing a couple of chunk plays, the defense held up pretty well. The unit won't be overjoyed, but it shouldn't be overwhelmingly displeased, either.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Disastrous. And that's being kind. Brian Johnson missed two extra-point attempts, and Harris' fumbled kickoff were monumental in the grand scheme. They were backbreaking plays in a game that was decided by two points, and there isn't much more to say than that. The unit can't leave points on the field, and it can't directly contribute to an opponent scoring points. Do those two things, and it's a recipe for a tough day.