The New Orleans Saints fell to the Tennessee Titans, 10-6, in the preseason finale for both clubs at Nashville's LP Field on Thursday night.
New Orleans ends the 2012 preseason at 2-3.
The Saints rested the majority of their starting lineup in their fifth preseason contest, and following the formation of the 53-man roster this weekend, they will return to the practice field in Metairie on Monday to prepare for their 2012 season opener vs. the Washington Redskins on September 9 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt said after the game that he was very proud of how the team handled the preseason.
"This a good football team with character individuals," said Vitt. "Our players are accountable to one another and will be fun to watch."
QB Sean Canfield received the starting nod for New Orleans and played the entire game. The former Oregon State standout completed 31-of-45 passes for 288 yards with two interceptions.
Rookie RB Travaris Cadet led the Saints in rushing with 15 carries for 57 yards. Cadet also led the Saints in receiving with eight grabs for 44 yards.
The New Orleans defense put together an impressive performance in the finale. Facing starting QB Jake Locker, the Saints held Tennessee to 226 total net yards and only allowed them to convert 29 percent (4-of-14) of their third down attempts.
S Isa Abdul-Quddus forced a fumble that was recovered by CB Elbert Mack to stop a potential Titans score.
Rookie LB Kadarron Anderson led the Saints with six tackles (four solo). K Garrett Hartley accounted for all of New Orleans' points with field goals from 38- and 21-yards out.
The Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive. Cadet returned the opening kickoff 22 yards to bring on Canfield to start the game for the black-and-gold.
Canfield immediately threw to WR Joseph Morgan. On second down, Canfield handed off to Cadet on a play up the middle for three yards. On a second consecutive run, Cadet had the ball knocked out of his hands by Titans CB Alterraun Verner, who recovered it at the New Orleans 24-yard line.
On Tennessee's first play from scrimmage, RB Javon Ringer ran left for a three-yard gain, before he was stopped by Abdul-Quddus. On second down, Ringer took a second carry up the middle and was tackled by LB Barrett Ruud, for a one-yard loss.
On third down, Locker completed an eight-yard pass to WR Lavelle Hawkins to set up first-and-goal at the nine-yard line. However, New Orleans would not allow the Titans to convert inside the ten and they had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by K Rob Bironas.
Starting at their 20, Canfield connected with RB Chris Ivory on a pass for a nine-yard gain and then Ivory took his first carry of the game for a gain of five and the first down conversion.
With a fresh set of downs, Canfield connected with TE Derek Schouman for a five-yard gain, but was then sacked for a four-yard loss by Titans DE Keyunta Dawson. A pass to rookie WR Nick Toon gained five yards but forced the New Orleans punt unit out, where Thomas Morstead booted a 39-yard kick that was returned by Tennessee return man RB Darius Reynaud six yards to the Tennessee 27.
On Tennessee's first play from scrimmage on their next drive, Locker rolled out with DE Junior Galette in pursuit, but threw an incomplete pass with a successful defense by CB Johnny Patrick. On second down, Ringer took a handoff on the edge, but was stopped by Galette after gaining two yards. Locker scrambled for a 16-yard gain and the first down to the Titans 45, but the New Orleans defense was then able to successfully get the Titans off the field four plays later, as P Brett Kern's punt sailed in the end zone for a touchback.
Ivory took the opening handoff for a two-yard gain. Canfield then completed a pass to TE Michael Higgins that was converted into a 17-yard gain. After the chains were moved, a throw was completed to Cadet in the middle of the field for a gain of five yards. Ivory then took a carry, jumping over one Titans defender and converting the first down before he was tripped up by Titans S Jordan Babineaux and CB Chris Hawkins at the New Orleans 49. Cadet took a carry for two yards, and then a deep Canfield attempt to Toon was incomplete.
On third down, New Orleans' signal-caller stepped back and completed a sharp throw to Morgan for a 20-yard gain where he was tackled by Titans S Coty Sensabaugh.
Following an incomplete attempt to Cadet, Ivory took a handoff up the middle and broke a tackle for an eight-yard gain. However, on a second consecutive run, the rusher was one yard short, sending the field goal unit out. K Garrett Hartley successfully booted the 38-yard field goal to tie the score.
Starting at their 23-yard line, a three-yard pass play from Locker to Titans TE Craig Stevens marked the end of the first quarter. The Titans signal-caller opened the second quarter with a 15-yard completion to WR Damian Williams and an eight-yard pass play to Reynaud. On second and two, Locker tried to hit the running back again, but rookie DT Akiem Hicks broke up the pass.
On third down, Locker completed a throw to WR Lavelle Hawkins for a 12-yard gain that was nearly picked off by Patrick. On the ensuing first down, Locker tried to go long, but overthrew Williams into the end zone. The second down play was equally as productive, as Reynaud coughed up the ball after the handoff and just managed to recover it at the line of scrimmage. On third down, a screen pass to Titans RB Jamie Harper was snuffed out by Patrick for a loss of one, sending Kern and the Tennessee punt unit out. Cadet took a 22-yard punt at the 19-yard line and called fair catch.
When New Orleans got the ball back, RB Joseph Banyard took the handoff and ran behind his offensive line for a four-yard gain. The young runner then showed some solid blocking on the next play as Canfield threw a bomb to Schouman for a gain of 41 yards to advance New Orleans to the Titans 36. A downfield completion to Cadet for a seven-yard gain followed to bring the Saints to the 29 before Canfield delivered a first down conversion on a throw to Morgan for an 11-yard gain. Cadet took to the edge for a five-yard gain before he was pushed out of bounds at the 13-yard line by Titans CB Tommie Campbell. A six-yard completion to Higgins then brought the Saints to the seven and brought up a first-and-goal. Cadet took a handoff near the middle but was stopped by Dawson for no gain. Canfield then went to Toon, who dropped the pass in the end zone.
Canfield tried to put the Saints in the end zone with a short throw to Cadet, but he was stopped by Titans LBs Zach Brown and Tim Shaw three yards short of the goal line.
Tennessee would start at their 39 and moved into New Orleans territory on a seven-yard run by Reynaud and a 16-yard pass play from Locker to WR Kendall Wright, but they would be pushed back to the 43 on an offensive pass interference penalty assessed to the rookie wideout. Locker put the Titans back in field goal position though with an 18-yard completion to TE Jared Cook, followed by a nine-yard run by Reynaud. Two plays later, Locker scrambled and had the ball stripped out by Abdul-Quddus and it was picked up by Mack at the three-yard line and returned five yards.
Canfield immediately went to the air with short throws to WR Greg Camarillo and Schouman before the two minute warning to set up third-and-one.
After play resumed, a false start penalty was assessed to T Charles Brown, followed by an incomplete attempt to Cadet to send Morstead and the punt unit out. New Orleans' punter showed he is ready for the season opener by booting a 57-yard kick to pin the Titans back at their 31. False start and holding penalties on Tennessee backed them up to their 16. Following a three-yard run by Reynaud, Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck, entering the game in relief of Locker, completed a throw to TE Taylor Thompson for seven yards and then a ten-yard throw to Reynaud, setting up fourth and five at their 36 and forcing the punt unit out. On the final play of the first half, Kern's 41-yard punt sailed out of bounds, negating a possible return.
The second half's opening kickoff by Morstead was returned by Titans WR D.J. Woods 23 yards to the Titans 15, before he was tackled by FB Korey Hall. On a two-yard pass from Hasselbeck to Williams, S Jose Gumbs was assessed a 15-yard facemask penalty to advance the Titans to the 32. Harper then gained two yards apiece on two consecutive carries, being stopped by the New Orleans front seven. On third down, it was initially ruled that Hasselbeck completed a 15-yard pass to Wright. However, following a challenge by the New Orleans coaching staff, the game officials would rule that the pass hit the ground first before the receiver got his hands on it. The reversal forced the punt unit out and Kern booted a 47-yard punt out of bounds to the New Orleans 17.
Canfield completed a throw out of the flat to Higgins for a 12-yard gain, followed by a two-yard run by Banyard. On second down, a Canfield throw was picked off by Shaw at the 45-yard line, advancing it to the 33 before he was run out of bounds by Cadet.
Titans QB Rusty Smith relieved Hasselbeck with favorable field position. Harper took the first play of the drive on the right side and gained eight yards before being pushed out of bounds by CB Nick Hixson. A second down pass was dropped by Titans WR Michael Preston. On third-and-two, Harper carried up the middle for a one-yard gain, stopped by LB Kadarron Anderson just short of the first down. However, on fourth-and-one, Smith handed off to his running back and he turned the corner for a 17-yard gain. On the next play, Harper took his third consecutive handoff and was rustled up for no gain by DE Turk McBride. Smith then followed up with his second pass attempt of the drive, a successful throw for a six-yard gain to Woods. On third-and-goal at the one, Harper would bounce through a New Orleans defender into the end zone and to give the lead to Tennessee.
Cadet returned the kickoff out of the end zone 35 yards to the 27-yard line for New Orleans' starting position. The rookie runner from Appalachian State followed up the return with rushes of six- and nine-yard gains. Canfield then completed a throw to Camarillo for a 13-yard gain to advance the Saints into Titans territory. However, New Orleans was unable to convert and Morstead booted a 36-yard punt that. Woods caught the punt and called for a fair catch at the Titans eight-yard line.
Ringer took the next drive's opening carry for a four-yard gain, followed by a 13-yard pass play to Thompson. However, after an incomplete throw, Titans G Kyle DeVan was assessed a ten-yard penalty on a run by Ringer. Following an incomplete pass, on third-and-20, Smith found Ringer for an 11-yard gain, nine yards short of the chains after he was tackled by LB Lawrence Wilson. Cadet fielded the punt, however the return was called back on a block in the back assessed to WR Courtney Roby, giving New Orleans starting position at their 23-yard line.
Banyard started the next drive with a five-yard carry, followed by a pass play to Morgan for a seven-yard gain and the first down. With a fresh set of downs, Cadet took a carry up the middle for a two-yard gain. On second down, Canfield, eluded a pass rush and completed a short throw to Banyard for a seven-yard gain. The chains were then moved on a five-yard neutral zone infraction assessed to Titans DT DaJohn Harris. A short pass to Cadet resulted in a one-yard gain.
On second down at the 49, Cadet advanced into Titans territory on a five-yard run, where he eluded a Titans defender at the line of scrimmage. A third-and-four pass attempt intended for Camarillo, the last play in the third quarter, was broken up by Sensabaugh. The Saints initially went for it on fourth down, but a pass play from Canfield to Cadet was called back by a holding penalty on New Orleans. Morstead booted a 35-yard punt to the Titans 11, where Woods called a fair catch.
Following an incomplete throw on a deep attempt intended for Woods, Harper was stopped up the middle on a rush by Anderson and DE Martez Wilson. On third down, Smith underthrew Titans WR James Kirkendoll. However, Kern aided the Titans' cause by booting a 63-yard punt that would give New Orleans starting field position at their 24.
Banyard took a carry up the middle for a nine-yard game on a physical run where he lost his helmet. Cadet returned and converted the first down on a two yard run up the middle. Canfield and Schouman then connected on a nine-yard pass play. With another short yardage situation, Cadet took advantage of a hole cleared by T Marcel Jones and G DeOn'tae Pannell for a seven-yard gain. Canfield then took advantage of a clearing and connected with the runner from Miami for a six-yard gain. After Canfield was stopped for a five-yard loss on the next play, Canfield scrambled for a six-yard gain. Deciding to go for it on fourth-and-three, Canfield was picked off by Campbell at the Tennessee 27-yard line.
Harper took the first carry of Tennessee's drive and was stopped by Anderson after a gain of only one yard. The Titans' young rusher took a second carry though for a five-yard gain, but New Orleans would once again get the Titans off the field, when Patrick immediately tackled Kirkendoll following a two-yard reception, two yards short of the first down. Kern booted a 47-yard punt that was returned six yards by Camarillo.
With starting position at the 24, Cadet took advantage of a hole on the left side to rip open a 17-yard run. Following a two-yard rush by the running back, Canfield completed a one-yard throw to Toon. An outlet pass to Hall resulted in a nine-yard gain and first-and-ten at the Titans 47. Cadet took a handoff up the middle for a five-yard gain, but was then stuffed by Titans DT Lamar Divens for a loss of a yard. On third-and-six, Canfield faced a heavy pass rush, was sacked by Titans DT DaJohn Harris and lost the ball, which was recovered by the tackle at the New Orleans 38.
Reynaud took the next drive's opening carry and found a hole for a ten-yard gain before he was tackled by LB Ezra Butler. The runner wasn't so lucky on the subsequent carry though, as rookie CB Corey White stuck him for a two-yard loss and then Mack and Lawrence Wilson stopped him for no gain, adeptly reading a spin move. DT Tyrunn Walker then recorded his team-leading third sack of the preseason, when he dropped Smith for an eight-yard Titans' loss.
Canfield opened New Orleans' final drive with short passes to Schouman and Cadet to move the chains. However, holding and tripping penalties on New Orleans would pin them back at their 15. Following a pair of incomplete passes intended for Hall, Canfield found the fullback on an intermediate pass, where a roughing the passer penalty assessed to Tennessee advanced the Saints to the 42-yard line.
Camarillo then made what appeared to be a spectacular heads-up grab off of a throw that went off Schouman's fingertips, but following an officials review allowable inside the two-minute mark, it was reversed to an incomplete attempt. Canfield was then dropped by Dawson for a loss of 11 yards. On third-and-21, Canfield found Schouman and they got back nine yards.
On a four wideout set, Canfield found Camarillo for a gain of 24 yards to the Titans 36 and the signal-caller subsequently spiked the ball. Following an incomplete pass, a short throw to Hall for a six-yard gain would end the game on the Titans 30-yard line.