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New Orleans Saints sputter on offense, struggle on defense in Monday night loss to Raiders

Offense ran just 57 plays, defense couldn't produce third-down stops

Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Las Vegas Raiders matchup in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season.

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New Orleans Saints

There wasn't much sugarcoating afterward. The visuals accompanying the New Orleans Saints' 34-24 loss on Monday night to the Las Vegas Raiders assured that.

In their second game of the season, the Saints (1-1) submitted a forgettable performance in the first NFL game at Allegiant Stadium. A short week guarantees a short memory, and that'll serve the Saints well.

OFFENSE: The raw numbers – 424 yards, 7 of 11 on third down – weren't indicative of how New Orleans' offense stalled in the second and third quarters, and for a good portion of the fourth. The Saints averaged 7.4 yards per play, but only ran 57 plays and just weren't on the field enough (23:42 time of possession). They were good in the red zone (3 of 4) and ran the ball well (19 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns), but the opening salvo of running (81 yards in the first quarter) didn't last. Drew Brees' first interception of the season proved costly, as it led to a Raiders field goal before halftime, and New Orleans lost its rhythm against a Raider defense it dominated for a quarter.

DEFENSE: Defensively, the Saints followed a really good showing in the season opener with a really poor one against Las Vegas. There was a couple of more pass interference penalties, a personal foul for a horse collar tackle, and an inability to cover Raiders tight end Darren Waller (12 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown). The Saints did what they usually do against the run, holding the Raiders to 116 yards on 35 carries. But the inability to get off the field on third down – the Raiders were 10 of 17, including conversions on third-and-10 and third-and-9 – and a pair of fourth-down conversions in as many chances contributed to the defense being on the field for 76 plays. The Raiders gained five first down via penalties and if the Saints can't clean up the pass interferences and personal fouls, the number will hover around that mark until they do.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Solid work again by the unit. You can't regularly expect the production it had in the season opener, when it blocked a field goal and recovered a fumbled kickoff. But solid is fine. Deonte Harris returned a couple of kickoffs 64 yards, two of Thomas Morstead's three punts were downed inside the 20, Wil Lutz made his only field-goal attempt and Las Vegas didn't hurt the Saints with any big returns.

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