With the Saints trailing Baltimore 14-0 at the end of the first half, Andy Dalton knocked down open receiver Marquez Callaway in the end zone. It was that kind of night for the New Orleans offense.
A week after a 24-0 complete shutout against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Saints were held to a season-low 243 yards in a tepid 27-13 home loss to the Ravens that left them reduced to 3-6. New Orleans settled for a field goal in the final play of the half after Dalton missed, navigating Callaway’s fingertips, and didn’t get a touchdown until until the game was out of reach at the end of the fourth quarter.
“Everyone kind of contributed tonight,” Dalton said. “They did a good job with their plan. We have to find ways to make more plays than what we did tonight. That number was close to zero for most of the first half. The Saints collected two first downs on their first four possessions, and one of them came because of a flag for interference on a tilted interception.
Dalton’s longest carrying in three quarters was 19 yards, and the running game was equally ineffective. Alvin Kamara, who was pissed off early for no gain on third-and-one, finished with 30 yards on nine carries. “They did a lot of good things defensively that caused us a lot of challenges,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “We have to go back to the drawing board, make some corrections and improve next week.”
New Orleans converted just three of 11 third downs after entering with a 43.8% success rate – eighth best in the NFL. Lightning linebacker Tyus Bowser ran intact to force a Dalton throw on the Saints’ first third, setting the tone. Linebacker Justin Houston sacked Dalton on the last play of the first quarter, forcing another punt. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey dropped him on a third blitz to stop the Saints’ first drive in the second half, forcing a 37-yard field that only cut the gap to 17-6.
After a Ravens punt, Houston hit Dalton again and late Calais Campbell finished it on the opposite side. “We have to find ways to protect ourselves, find ways to get the ball out of my hand,” Dalton said. “Guys have to be 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, going for 188 yards on 40 carries while winning possession time 37:47-22:13. Baltimore put the game away when Houston intercepted a deflected pass and returned it to New Orleans’ 17 midway through the fourth quarter, setting up Kenyan Drake’s four-yard touchdown run for a 27- 6. The Saints scored their only touchdown on a 41-yard catch-and-run by tight end Juwan Johnson with 4:13 left when Ravens defensemen gave up because they thought he was out of bounds.
When asked if a game like that might make him reconsider staying with Dalton over season-opening starter Jameis Winston, Allen said no. The Saints had scored at least 25 goals in their last five games, averaging 29.6 points. “Our attack was quite good and moved the ball effectively,” he said. “It was not a good game tonight. We had a bad day in the office offensively and we have to improve.