The New Orleans Saints saw their 8-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12, losing 26-20. It was a frustrating game to watch, as the team was fairly ineffective offensively outside of Alvin Kamara (188 total yards and 2 touchdowns), and saw a very penalty-riddled contest (7 penalties for 112 yards).
The offense only had 14 first downs for the game, and several of those came late in ‘garbage time’. Third down conversions were a big issue, as Drew Brees and company went 3-of-13 for the day. Brees finished 22-of-32 for 246 yards and had a late passing touchdown to Kamara, but was under constant duress all game and had some pretty bad throws.
For the second straight game, the Saints defense gave up over 400 yards of total offense to the opposition (456 to the Redskins, 415 to the Rams). Jared Goff and the Rams averaged 5.7 yards per play on 73 offensive snaps, but he hung 354 passing yards on the Saints on 43 attempts (28 completions, 2 TDs, INT). Todd Gurley didn’t totally gash the Saints run defense (17 for 74 yards), but did enough in the end to keep New Orleans from getting the ball back late.
Both De’Vante Harris and P.J. Williams struggled in the absence of Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley, with Harris getting benched in favor of Sterling Moore - but probably way too late. Mark Ingram had his lowest rushing total of the season (31 yards) since Week 1 against the Vikings, Coby Fleener sustained a concussion from that nasty helmet to helmet hit, and Marcus Williams reportedly left the field early.
Needless to say, Week 12 could be summarized as a fairly ugly loss in which the Saints failed to deliver. The Saints moved to 8-3, and now have a big NFC South divisional clash on their hands with the 8-3 Carolina Panthers. The now 7-4 Atlanta Falcons are also nipping at the team’s heels to try to get back into the division race, and New Orleans will have to play them on a short week right after Carolina. How the Saints respond after this loss is everything, and could prove to be the most important part of the 2017 season.