Heading into Sunday's road game against the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints had plenty of built-in excuses.

Half of the coaching staff were not with the team due to COVID-19 protocols, and a bevy of key players such as cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, defensive ends Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon, linebacker Kwon Alexander, and center Erik McCoy were all out with injuries.

Yet, the team was confident, as was the fanbase.

Perhaps it was due to the dominant win last Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Or maybe it was the confidence coach Sean Payton had in himself and his team.

In the end, it was one of the worst performances of the Payton era in New Orleans, as the Panthers walloped the Saints 26-7.

Despite not having a full deck of cards, Payton was in no mood to make excuses.

It was a role reversal of a week ago, with New Orleans being on the wrong side of a dominant performance.

The final stats paint the picture of just how soundly the Saints were beat on Sunday.

Watching the Saints open up huge holes for the run game and give quarterback Jameis Winston ample time against the Packers, one would have never guessed it was the same unit in Carolina.

The biggest reason the Saints were handled by the Panthers was the offensive line being completely dominated.

A 2.8 yard per carry average as a team, with star running back Alvin Kamara finished with 5 yards on 8 runs, doesn't begin to tell the story of how horrendous the Saints offensive line played.

What about pass protection?

Many point to Winston's two interceptions and overall poor performance as a big reason New Orleans was handily beaten.

While he accepted "full responsibility", it was a joint effort offensively, especially upfront.

The Saints defense had issues too, but they had to play nearly two-thirds of the contest due to Carolina owning the time of possession battle, thanks in large part to New Orleans only procuring 6 first downs.

Carolina's front seven squashed the Saints O-Line, and they were never able to keep up.

It wasn't the only reason New Orleans had their worst offensive performance in coach Payton's 16-year tenure, but it was the biggest.

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