The 10-5 New Orleans Saints were bounced from the top of the NFC South by the now 11-4 Carolina Panthers after a 17-13 loss. In a game that involved some serious rain, the Saints still managed to put the ball in the air 44 times, opposed to running the ball 30 times.
This would've been the perfect game for the Saints to run the ball 50 times, control the clock and send the Panthers to a slow and miserable death.
Death by a thousand cuts, if you will.
With running back Mark Ingram dominating the Panthers' front (83 yards on 13 carries), the Saints instead decided to call an inordinate amount of screens that generated virtually nothing. When you factor in how close the score was the entire game, coupled with the Panthers only generating 262 total yards, you can see how suspect the play-calling was for New Orleans.
The defense had a terrific outing, but it wasn't enough to overcome the coaching and overall ineptness of the Saints' philosophy on offense.
The Saints have a few positives to hang their hats on. Conversely, there are many areas where they should hang their heads.
Let's see what stood out in defeat. Here are the complete roster grades from Week 16.
Note: Players are graded on the standard scale. Higher grades are given for splash plays (TDs, INTs, sacks, etc.) and proper technique. Conversely, lower grades are given for turnovers and improper technique.