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Observations from New Orleans Saints loss to Carolina Panthers

Turnovers, penalties too much to overcome

1. Self-inflicted wounds part two: New Orleans continues to hurt itself with costly turnovers and penalties, a promising opening drive was negated by a false start penalty and chop block by Mark Ingram on a first down pass to Michael Thomas. On their next offensive series, after a personal foul on quarterback Jameis Winston, running back Alvin Kamara was stripped and the ensuing fumble was retuned by defensive lineman Marquis Haynes 44 yards for a touchdown and early Panthers lead. It was Kamara's first fumble since 2020 and only the eighth of his career. The Saints, at the time, had committed six turnovers (two returned for touchdown)s since the 1:19 mark of the third quarter of the Tampa game. Two series later, an Ingram first down run was negated by a holding penalty on center Erik McCoy. New Orleans committed five offensive penalties in the first half alone. The Saints have now turned the ball over nine times (five interceptions, four fumbles) in three games. If these mistakes continue, the Saints (1-2) not only have to play their opponents, but themselves as well.

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2. Slow starts: With the Saints being shut out in the first half in Carolina, New Orleans has scored 10 total points in the first half in the first three games this season, with the lone touchdown coming by Taysom Hill in the first quarter against the Falcons in the season opener. New Orleans has also been shut out four times in the first half since the 2021 season began. The fact that the defense has played very well during these stretches has made this stat a little more bearable, but moving forward the Saints need to get some points on the board early and take some pressure off the defense. Actually, the first drives of the last two games have been solid, with a field goal against Tampa, and we've already discussed what happened on the first drive of this game in our first observation. Just too many self-inflicted mistakes and three-and-outs to overcome. As an aside, the Saints have not been shutout in 324 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league and the fourth longest all time.

3. Ooooooooooooo lave….whooooaaahhh: Last week vs Tampa rookie receiver Chris Olave was a favorite target of Winston. Unfortunately, despite being targeted 13 times, including at least four deep shots, Olave "only" recorded five catches for 80 yards. Sunday in Charlotte was a much different story as Olave recorded the first of what Saints fans hope are many 100-yard receiving games. The former Ohio State Buckeye was targeted 13 times again vs the Panthers and Olave hauled in career highs of nine receptions for 147 yards including a long of 49 that set the still scoreless Saints up in great field position right before halftime. Olave was able to come up big all game, and know with the injury status of fellow wideouts Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Tre' Quan Smith, who all left the Carolina game, Olave could very well be the No. 1 option as the team heads across the Atlantic to take on the Minnesota Vikings in London next Sunday. Speaking of Smith, shoutout to him for grabbing his first four receptions of the season for 105 yards, including a 48-yarder that set the Saints up for their final touchdown that made the game a 22-14 contest with just over two minutes left. Unfortunately, Smith came down hard on the turf with his helmet, and had to leave the game with a possible concussion.

New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers.

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