Saints Fall to 5-4 With Tight 23-21 Loss to Tennessee Titans
Multiple mistakes on special teams doomed the New Orleans Saints in their close 23-21 loss on the road against the Tennessee Titans.
This week was the second straight week where the Saints dug themselves into a hole, mounted a huge comeback, and fell short at the very end of the game. They are now 5-4 this season and failed to take advantage of the NFC South's leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss to the Washington Football Team.
The first quarter between the two teams was incredibly underwhelming with each team trading two punts after the Titans started with the ball.
Finally, at the end of the first quarter, Tennessee got a long scoring drive, but the Saints defense tightened up to force them to settle for a 28-yard field goal.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian and the Saints offense responded with their first big drive which included a huge 46-yard completion to wide receiver Deonte Harris.
Three plays later, Siemian hit wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith for an 11-yard touchdown. The extra-point by kicker Brian Johnson was no good, but the Saints took a 6-3 lead.
Tennessee tied the game with another long field goal drive, and, after a New Orleans punt, they started driving again looking to retake the lead.
Chunk plays by the Titans got them into the red zone again where the Saints defense had been very good in the first half.
On first-and-goal, safety Marcus Williams intercepted a ball from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the end zone. However, it was overturned due to a terrible roughing-the-passer call. Tennessee was given another chance, and, on third-and-goal, an incompletion was flagged due to a pass interference penalty. Finally, after five excruciating plays for Saints fans, Tannehill ran in from one yard out to score a touchdown and give the Titans a 13-6 lead.
The Saints had less than two minutes to try and put up points before the end of the first half, and a 21-yard completion to Harris with one minute remaining had them at the Titans 35.
Two straight sacks without a timeout and a false start with a 10-second clock runoff ended a promising scoring drive and the Saints went into halftime down 13-6.
Harris fumbled the kickoff to start the second half, and the Titans took advantage of their short field, only using five plays to go 19 yards during a touchdown drive that earned them their biggest lead of the day at 20-6.
New Orleans responded by going three-and-out, but their defense got a big sack on third down by defensive end Marcus Davenport to give the offense another chance to dig into the lead.
This time, Siemian led another drive deep into Titans territory, hitting Smith and Taysom Hill for big gains. A 13-yard touchdown run by running back Mark Ingram got it back to a one-possession game and capped off their best offensive drive of the first three quarters. Johnson missed another extra point, and it remained an eight-point game.
The Saints defense came up big again, forcing another three-and-out late in the third quarter. New Orleans had a chance to tie the game, but they also went three-and-out and punted.
Tannehill fumbled on the second play of their next drive, but the Titans jumped on it, limping into the final quarter.
A 39-yard catch-and-run set Tennessee up with a first-and-goal. Davenport got his second sack of the day, and the Titans settled for a 36-yard field goal to stretch the lead back to two possessions at 23-12.
On the first play of the next drive, Siemian connected with Ingram on a beautiful 34-yard gain. Right after that, he hit tight end Juwan Johnson for 26 yards down to the Titans three.
An incompletion on third-and-goal set up a fourth-and-goal at the one yard-line and the Saints chose to kick a 20-yard field goal which Johnson finally hit. The game was back to one-possession at 23-15, but a great opportunity for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter seemed to have been wasted.
The Saints defense, as it had been in the entire second half, stood up and forced another punt.
Siemian went deep to wide receiver Marquez Callaway and he caught a 22-yard pass. A helmet-to-helmet hit added 15 yards to the first play of the drive. On third-and-four, Siemian to Harris gained 17 more yards and set the Saints back up in the red zone at the two-minute warning.
On third-and-13, Siemian completed a gorgeous pass to Callaway for a 15-yard touchdown. With 1:16 left, they were forced to go for two to tie it up. A false start by tight end Adam Trautman pushed the attempt back to the seven yard-line, and an incompletion kept them down two at 23-21.
The onsides kick was recovered by Tennessee and they kneeled out the clock. For the second straight week, a huge comeback attempt by New Orleans fell short.
Up next, the Saints play in Philadelphia against the Eagles on Nov. 21 at 12:00 p.m.