To say the New Orleans Saints are struggling to win football games would be an understatement as the team fell to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.
Despite having more yards, the Saints (5-6) committed six penalties plus turned the ball over twice, giving the Falcons (5-6) enough to win the game and take a lead at the top of the NFC South standings.
“The boiling point came down to the penalties and turnovers offensively. Additionally, it’s very difficult when you give up over 200 yards on the ground defensively,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen said, referencing the defense’s worst showing of the season stopping the run game.
After a big first half from wide receiver Chris Olave, which included 114 yards on seven catches, the second-year player out of Ohio State went down with a concussion. Rashid Shaheed also went down with a calf injury, leaving the team’s receiving corps barer than usual as Michael Thomas (knee) was already out.
“When you’re playing without your top three receivers, it is challenging,” Allen continued. “Penalties and not taking care of the ball hurts, but I thought we moved the ball well for what we had. It was challenging to figure out the personnel, but it’s time to get back to work.”
Both teams started the game slow, trading possessions before the Saints were the first to crack the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal by Blake Grupe. This would be the last time New Orleans would lead in the game as Atlanta safety Jessie Bates intercepted Derek Carr a few minutes later and returned it 92 yards to take a 7-3 lead.
A touchdown from rookie running back Bijan Robinson, in which the Saints responded to with two more field goals, made the score 14-9 at halftime.
Grupe continued his big day with another field goal in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-12. Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu attempted to give the team some momentum with his second interception of the day, only for Taysom Hill to fumble near the goal line on the ensuing possession.
The Falcons were able to extend their lead to nine when quarterback Desmond Ridder found Robinson in the corner of the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown. The two teams traded field goals late in the game to make for a 24-15 final score in Atlanta.
Leading the box score for the Saints was Carr with 304 yards passing and running back Alvin Kamara, who totaled 119 yards. For Atlanta, Ridder threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns as Robinson finished with 91 yards. Wide receiver Drake London had 91 yards on five catches.
New Orleans will be back in action on Sunday, Dec. 3 when they host the Detroit Lions (8-3). Kickoff at the Caesar’s Superdome is set for 12 p.m. CT.