The New Orleans Saints had another stellar performance by Quarterback Drew Brees, 330 yards passing with a touchdown, against the Minnesota Vikings. Saints Running Back Reggie Bush returned two punts for touchdowns (tying the NFL record for a game) and almost had a third.
The defense held one of the NFL’s most dangerous running team to just 44 rushing yards and held Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson to just 32 yards on 21 carries and no touchdowns. The Saints defense kept the Vikings to just 270 yards of total offense; it marked the first time this season the Saints didn’t give up over 300 yards.
One would think by all of this that the Saints won the game; unfortunately it was another heartbreaking loss. It was one more game this season that the Saints should have won. The team could easily be 4-1 (they were never really in the Washington game) and tied for first place in the NFC South, but are now looking up from the bottom of the division at 2-3 after the 30-27 loss to the Vikings on Monday night.
Brees accounted for 336 yards on offense while the rest of the team managed to post 55 total yards. The running game was non existent; Deuce McAllister and Bush combined for only 42 yards on 18 carries and no touchdowns, while Pierre Thomas was yet again relegated to just kick returns.
The defense once again gave up big plays down field and did not manage to establish a constant pass rush, allowing Vikings Quarterback Gus Frerotte to take his time in the pocket. Frerotte had no pressure on him especially during the last drive of the game, which lead to their game winning field goal.
The Saints racked up 4 total turnovers in the game. There were 5 fumbles (2 lost) and 2 interceptions. One of the interceptions was the result of another bobbled pass by a Saints receiver, this time it was Lance Moore late in the second quarter. There was a failed onside kick in the first quarter that lead to a field goal by the Vikings.
The Saints were penalized 11 times in the game for 102 yards. It was the second consecutive game that the team had over 10 penalties over 100 yards, 13 for 123 yards last week against the San Francisco49ers. The biggest penalty came late in the fourth quarter when Frerotte threw a pass downfield on 3rd down. While being double covered, safety Kevin Kaesviharn never turns around and runs into the receiver for pass interference. The penalty would move the Vikings from their own 44 yard line to the Saints 14 yard line and set up their game winning field goal.
There were also a good number of no calls in the game as well. The fumble by Bush in the second quarter should have been negated because he was pulled down by his facemask on the play. The very next play, Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian didn’t catch a ball that was ruled complete on the field. The play lead to a Saints challenge and the call was corrected.
Later on in the second quarter, Peterson fumbles the ball but it was sent to review within the 2 minute warning. The replay shows that the ball is coming out before the knee hit, yet the referees explained that the ball was coming away from his body before he was down and still controlled it with one hand. The Vikings would continue their drive and kick a field goal. At this point, the fans in the Superdome were at near riot rage. There were also a lot of missed holding calls, which could even be seen all the way up in my season ticket section of 620.
Kicker Martin Gramatica had a low angle kick blocked and returned for a touchdown in the first quarter and missed the go ahead field goal before the two minute warning in the fourth quarter. It was the second time this season (Denverin week 3) that Gramatica had the chance to put the Saints ahead to win the game, only to miss in the end.
With the turnovers, penalties, and missed/blocked field goals, the Vikings managed to score 23 points off of Saints’ miscues. Ultimately the Saints lost this game more than the Vikings won it. The Saints were definitely the more dominating team in the game, but constantly allowed the Vikings chances to stay and eventually win the game. If the team does not learn from their mistakes promptly, the Saints could easily be the most dangerous team with a losing record.