Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles matchup in Week 14 of the 2020 NFL season.
Philadelphia – Frankly, it has been quite some time since a New Orleans Saints team has had such significant lapses in all three phases.
That's likely what it would have taken for the Saints to lose a game to the reeling Philadelphia Eagles, and that's about what happened in Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
It wasn't just that the Saints (10-3) had their nine-game winning streak snapped and weren't able to clinch their fourth consecutive NFC South Division title, it's that New Orleans probably played its worst game of the season while losing to a team with a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start.
Not a lot went right for the Saints in this one.
OFFENSE: The final numbers (358 yards, five of 12 on third down) were much more generous than the actual game was. New Orleans was out of sync for much of the game, and there was no better indication of that than a scoreless first half, which left it trailing 17-0 after two quarters. Punt, missed field goal, punt, interception, punt and punt was how the Saints' six first-half possessions concluded. After scoring touchdowns on both third-quarter possessions, a fourth-down fumble and missed field goal in the fourth basically ended the comeback bid. Quarterback Taysom Hill completed 28 of 38 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw an interception, he lost a fumble and he was sacked five times. It was a struggle offensively, to say the least. The Eagles took the early lead, unleashed a relentless pass rush and had their way with the Saints in the trenches, a rare occurrence for New Orleans this season.
DEFENSE: New Orleans had a 56-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Sunday, the Saints allowed two of them; Eagles running back Miles Sanders ran 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Jalen Hurts added 106 yards on 18 carries. All told, Philadelphia gained 246 rushing yards on 36 carries, numbers that the Saints generally have not allowed over a three-game span, and Sanders' 82-yard touchdown run was a shocker for a defense that doesn't allow chunk-play runs. New Orleans didn't have an answer for Hurts, who completed 17 of 30 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, didn't throw an interception and wasn't sacked. Rookie or not, when a quarterback is as comfortable as Hurts was, he'll have success. His runs were probably more damaging than his throws.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Wil Lutz has missed three field goals in the last two games, after missing twice against Philadelphia. They weren't chip shots – 45- and 57-yarders aren't layups by any stretch of the imagination. So, perhaps, the shock is attributable to the fact that Lutz has spoiled us. But there definitely is an expectation level that he brings, especially for kicks under 50 yards. Otherwise, on the whole, the special teams units might have been the one phase where the Saints were fairly close to being an approximation of what we're accustomed to seeing. Thomas Morstead had an excellent punting game (the one that wound up as a touchback had a chance to be downed inside the 5) and New Orleans simply doesn't allow anything in the return game.