Not a lot of meat to pull off the bone for this one.
The New Orleans Saints lost their regular-season finale 33-14 on Sunday to the Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the bright spots are that New Orleans (13-3) already had sewn up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, and there didn’t appear to be any significant injuries sustained.
But when those are the most positive things that can be said about the game, then that speaks volumes about the quality of that game.
Still, those two things aren’t to be downplayed. Now, we’ll sift through the finale to see what gems may be found.
OFFENSE: Teddy Bridgewater hadn’t started an NFL game since leading Minnesota into a Wild Card playoff game Jan. 10, 2016. Since then, he’d suffered a devastating knee injury, thrown two passes in mop-up duty last year and one this year, and taken a knee in four games in victory formation this year. Sunday’s performance – 14 of 22 for 118 yards and a touchdown, with an interception – wasn’t pinpoint and flawless. The interception was a pass he obviously would want back, and he was under waves of pressure. But he also displayed some of the traits that he showed as a two-year starter for the Vikings in in 2015-16 (he was a Pro Bowler in ’16): accuracy, mobility, poise. It wasn’t a win, but there are some winning qualities to Bridgewater.
DEFENSE: I just don’t have a lot for you on this one, because there isn’t much to choose from. The Saints didn’t cover well, and didn’t rush the passer particularly well. But I’ll go with rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport, whose activity was eye-catching. Davenport shared a sack with defensive tackle David Onyemata, had a tackle for loss, and added three of the Saints’ seven quarterback hits. It wasn’t jump-off-the-page good, but it was enough to suggest that he can (and will) be a factor in the playoffs.
SPECIAL TEAMS: New Orleans didn’t attempt a field goal, didn’t have a tackle on kickoff (all three were touchbacks) or a punt coverage (two fair catches, two downed, one out of bounds), didn’t have any kickoff return yards (six touchbacks) and gained 18 on two punt returns by Tommylee Lewis. That leaves punter Thomas Morstead as our guy, with five punts for a 42-yard gross and net average. It wasn’t his best day, but it was good enough on this day.
Check out the Week 17 game action between the Saints and Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 30, 2018.