New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 9 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
The good news for the New Orleans Saints (3-6), after a 27-13 loss to the Ravens on Monday night in the Caesars Superdome, is that they remain just one game out of first place in the NFC South Division.
But that pretty much was the only good that came out of Monday night.
New Orleans couldn't muster much offense and couldn't get off the field on defense. And a week after constructing their most complete game of the season, the Saints followed up with one of their least complete.
OFFENSE: One touchdown and 243 yards of offense – and 0 for 2 in the red zone – just isn't going to be enough in most games. An 83-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter made the numbers more respectable, but even then, the Saints totaled 13 first downs, were unsuccessful on eight of 11 third-down attempts and maintained possession for just 22:13 of the game. The run game (15 carries for 48 yards) was stopped early, and the pass game had protection issues (four sacks allowed). Quarterback Andy Dalton completed 19 of 29 for 210 yards and a touchdown, with an interception, but those numbers were rosy. He was under pressure for much of the game, and he'll have the soreness and bruises to show for it.
DEFENSE: New Orleans pitched a shutout against the Raiders eight days earlier in its most dominant defensive performance of the season. The Ravens were much more troublesome, with touchdown drives of 76 and 81 yards and a field goal drive of 61 yards, grinding 11, 12 and 12 plays, respectively, on them. Defensively, the Saints couldn't get off the field on third down (the Ravens were 9 of 15) even though New Orleans had several favorable down-and-distance situations – a pair of third-and-8 plays and a third-and-4. New Orleans' defense isn't the first to have difficulty containing Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, and even though Jackson's numbers didn't look like much – 12 of 22 passing for 133 yards and a touchdown, 11 rushes for 82 yards – his fingerprints were all over the game. The Ravens kept New Orleans off balance with Jackson's early completions, and that helped lead to 188 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: There's nothing glaringly wrong with how the special team units performed Monday night. But it was one of those games where New Orleans could've used something spectacular from them – a long punt or kickoff return, a blocked punt or kick, a fumble recovery. Those things aren't easy to generate, but New Orleans needs a little bit more juice from special teams than it has gotten this season to make life a little bit easier for the other two units.