The mystique of the Superdome is no longer, as the New Orleans Saints suffer their third straight home loss. Justin Forsett rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns to lift the Baltimore Ravens past the Saints 34-27 on Monday night. The last time the Saints lost three straight home games neither head coach Sean Payton nor quarterback Drew Brees were a part of the organization. The year was 2005.
As for the game, it was a closely contested game up until the third quarter. Tied at 17-17 Brees was intercepted by Baltimore safety Will Hill, who returned the interception 44 yards to the end zone for the touchdown giving the Ravens the lead over the New Orleans Saints. Hill’s presence was felt on the game with four tackles and two pass deflections to add to the pick six.
Hill thwarted a rally from the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter. In a 27-17 Hill knocked down a pass intended for the electric tight end Jimmy Graham. Two plays it was Hill covering Graham one-on-one opposite of a trips formation, when Brees overshot his throw to Graham. New Orleans would settle for a field goal to reduce the deficit to 27-20.
On the ensuing possession Forsett busted through the weak side of an overload defense of the New Orleans Saints for a 20-yard touchdown, extending the Ravens lead to 34-20 with less than four minutes remaining. The Saints were able to score a late touchdown, as Brees found Graham for a second scoring hookup. But with 44 seconds remaining the Saints were forced to try an off-sides kick, which the Ravens recovered.
Baltimore joins the rest of the AFC North, as all four teams in the division have seven wins. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints fall to 4-7. Despite being three games under .500 the Saints still remain in a virtual tie for first place in the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta currently holds the tiebreaker via their head-to-head win over the Saints. Still it does not defuse the fact the New Orleans Saints have suffered their third straight loss.
Looking at the stat line, Brees had a masterful game. He threw for 420 yards on 35 of 45 passing with three touchdowns. However, that one mistake to Hill changed the complexion of the game. The Saints offensive line did not do Brees any favors either. Brees was sacked four times, including twice on a pivotal third quarter drive with the Saints trailing by seven. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs got one of those two sacks for his 100th sack of his career.
The margin for error is very small for Brees and the Saints offense with a defense that yields 370 yards per game. On Monday the Saints defense allowed 449 yards of total offense, including 215 yards rushing. Brees’ counterpart Joe Flacco was mistake free in the battle of former Super Bowl MVPs. Flacco was 18 of 24 passing for 243 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr.
Thanks to their passing game the Saints still out gained the Ravens 525-449 in yards in defeat. The New Orleans Saints will have to get over suffering their third straight home loss. They will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, who are in a three-team tie for second place with the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North. The Saints are 0-3 versus AFC North teams so far this season.
Commentary by King Motley
ESPN – Box Score
ESPN – Saints Defensive Stats
Photo by David Reber – Flickr License