With the Saints trailing Baltimore 14-0 late in the first half, Andy Dalton knocked open future Marquis Calaway into the end zone. It was the kind of night for a New Orleans crime.
A week after a 24-0 overall shutdown of the Las Vegas Raiders, the Saints were held down a 243-yard low season in a tepid home loss 27-13 to the Ravens that dropped them to 3-6. New Orleans settled for a field goal in the final inning of the game after Dalton’s foul, which sailed off Calaway’s toe, didn’t get touched until the game became elusive late in the fourth quarter.
“Everyone kind of had a hand that night,” Dalton said. “They did a good job with their plan. We need to find ways to make more plays than we did tonight.” That number was close to zero for most of the first half. The Saints picked up the first two landings on their first four possessions, and one came due to flag to interfere with an inverted intercept.
Dalton’s longest finish over three quarters was 19 yards, and his running game was ineffective. Alvin Kamara, who was stuffed early with no profit in third and one, finished 30 yards on nine buggies. “They’ve done a lot of good things defensively and they’ve given us a lot of challenges,” said Saints coach Denis Allen. “We have to get back to the drawing board and make some corrections and get better next week.”
New Orleans turned just three of its 11 third-drops after entering with a 43.8% success rate – eighth best In the NFL. Cheerful quarterback Tyus Bowser ran untouched to force Dalton to throw the ball in the Saints’ first third down, setting the tone. Midfielder Justin Houston sacked Dalton in the last game of the first quarter, forcing another kick. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey dropped him in a third-place blitz to stop the Saints’ first lead in the second half, forcing a 37-yard field that only closed the gap to 17-6.
After the Ravens kick, Houston hit Dalton again, and Calais Campbell finished the game off the other side. “We have to find ways to block protection, find ways to get the ball out of my hand,” Dalton said. “Men should open on time.”
Lamar Jackson threw a touchdown pass late in the first quarter to give Baltimore a 7-0 lead. The Ravens then controlled the ball on the ground, rushing for 188 yards in 40 loads while winning possession time 37:47-22:13. Baltimore put the game out of Houston’s reach when Houston intercepted a skewed pass and returned it to New Orleans 17 midway through the fourth quarter, Kenyan Drake made his run from four yards to advance 27-6. The Saints recorded their solo touchdown in 41 yards of catching and running by a tight finish by Joan Johnson with a 4:13 left when the Ravens’ defenders stopped because they thought he was out of bounds.
When asked if a game like that might make him reconsider sticking with Dalton during James Winston’s preseason, Allen said no. The Saints have scored at least 25 in their last five games, averaging 29.6 points. “Our attack was good and we moved the ball effectively,” he said. “It wasn’t a good match tonight. We had a bad day in the office offensively and we have to improve from it.”
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