Garrett Hartley shanks a chip shot to cement a stinker for the Saints.
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|Positional Unit||Halftime Grades||Postgame Grades|
Final Analysis for the New Orleans Saints
Pass Offense: Drew Brees managed a 70 percent completion rate on 7.0 yards per attempt, which is the only thing raising this grade above an F. Both of his picks resulted in Rams touchdowns, the offensive line was terrible (four sacks and constant pressure on Brees all day) and Jimmy Graham was a no-show (two catches, 25 yards). The Saints' 393 yards through the air were the result of Brees needing to throw 56 times due to a huge early deficit.
Run Offense: New Orleans was nothing special on the ground, running 20 times for 61 total yards. A collective 3.1 yards per carry isn't going to set the opposing defensive line on their heels. Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas were pedestrian and never really got out in space, where they're most dangerous.
Pass Defense: The defense improved statistically in the second half, largely due to St. Louis pounding the ball with Zac Stacy. Kellen Clemens only threw for 158 yards but actually had a higher yards per attempt (7.8) than Drew Brees, because he only needed to throw 20 times.
Run Defense: St. Louis ran the Saints into submission, rushing 34 times to just 20 passes. Despite the Saints stacking the box and trying desperately to stop the run, St. Louis still managed a respectable 4.2 yards per attempt, including 133 yards and a touchdown from Stacy.
Special Teams: This was a nightmare game for Garrett Hartley, who had a short kick blocked at the end of the first half and then shanked another one late to seal the loss.
Coaching: The Saints came out flat, couldn't protect their quarterback and got diced up in the first half. They managed the clock poorly (Drew Brees' shovel-pass on their last drive that ate up a ton of valuable clock comes to mind) and had huge penalties (including a penalty on what would have been their first touchdown late in the first half). This was an absolute duck, no doubt. Sean Payton will need to regroup his team quickly heading into the last two weeks of football before the playoffs.
First-Half Analysis for the New Orleans Saints
Pass Offense: Despite 8.0 yards per attempt and a 76 percent completion rate from Brees, this was a horrible half of football from the Saints offense. Brees threw two abysmal picks (both of which eventually turned into touchdowns for St. Louis) and the offense stuttered short of the end zone twice. Brees was sacked twice and was under consistent pressure, often being forced to check down to Pierre Thomas when there wasn't time for his receivers to develop routes. Overall, this was the worst performance from the Saints offense all year.
Run Offense: Usually a mediocre running game doesn't hurt the Saints, but it did today as the Saints couldn't get anything going through the air. New Orleans had just 26 yards rushing outside of a seven-yard scramble by Brees, and 11 of those yards came on one run from Thomas.
Pass Defense: The Saints' usually stout passing defense just got carved up by Clemens. Clemens finished the half with a 77 percent completion rate, 8.7 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. The pass rush couldn't get to him consistently (zero sacks) and a pair of big plays (including a 31-yard touchdown to backup tight end Cory Harkey) did the Saints in early.
Run Defense: This has been a rough game for a Saints team whose weaknesses have been exposed while their strengths have been absent. New Orleans' porous run defense has yielded 106 yards on 6.6 yards per carry to Stacy, including a 40-yard touchdown run from a guy who isn't known for his breakaway speed. The run defense will need to tighten up as the Rams will likely play a clock-management style second half.
Special Teams: A terrible half for the Saints culminated in a blocked kick to end their final drive.
Coaching: Everything has gone wrong thus far for the Saints—turnovers, costly penalties (including a hands-to-the-face penalty that negated a touchdown late in the half) and bad line play on both sides. Payton will have to pull off a miracle comeback to keep the Saints alive in the chase for the NFC's top seed.