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Saints fall just short in preseason finale against Ravens, big roster decisions loom

The Saints closed out their preseason on Thursday night, and for the most part, you could say we were somewhat pleased.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints hosted the Baltimore Ravens Thursday evening in each team’s preseason finale. A handful of players were out of the mix, and outside Max Unger and Ryan Ramczyk, the offensive starters didn’t see action. On defense, it was mainly the same story, with only David Onyemata, Marcus Williams, and Vonn Bell seeing action.

As you’d imagine, the fourth preseason game was mostly ugly. The Saints had turnover issues (Chase Daniel interception and Daniel Lasco fumble) that allowed the Ravens to start two drives inside the red zone, but luckily the Saints allowed just one touchdown. The defense would answer the call after the Lasco fumble to get one of their own after Al-Quadin Muhammad strip/sacked Thad Lewis that was recovered by David Onyemata.

Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t take advantage after a questionable false start penalty on Chase Daniel forced them to settle for a 49-yard Wil Lutz field goal that ended up getting blocked. The snap was low, and it was the first miss for Lutz this preseason.

The Ravens piloted a scoring drive that lasted over 7 minutes to get their second touchdown of the night from a Bobby Rainey rush, extending their lead to 14-0 with 3:21 left in the half. Some bright spots for the Saints defense in the first half included some standout play from Adam Bighill, who racked up five tackles and a pass defense in his playing time. David Onyemata also stood out with four tackles and two quarterback hits.

The Saints would finally find the end zone to close out the first half after the offense went 88 yards in 13 plays. Daniel found tight end Josh Hill on a back shoulder seam route. Give Daniel a ton of credit too, because he was noticeably limping early on the drive. Entering halftime, the Saints outgained the Ravens 165-122, thanks largely in part to their final drive of the half.

Entering the second half, Ryan Nassib, not Garrett Grayson got the starting nod for the offense. Most of the action was tame, but Arthur Maulet got the Superdome alive after making a great gunner play in which he forced a muff/fumble. Several plays later, the Saints would turn it into a 28-yard Wil Lutz field goal to cut the Ravens lead to 14-10.

The Saints defense played much better to start the half, getting some big stops in the process. Fast forward to the 4th Quarter, and the Saints cut the Ravens lead to 14-13 after a 12-play, 63-yard piloted by Nassib.

Garrett Grayson entered with just a little over 7 minutes to play in the game to close things out, but didn’t get much help from his receivers to move the ball. There were tons of dropped passes, missed pass interference calls, and the offensive line didn’t help him much.

Grayson had one final opportunity on the game’s final drive, and it looked promising as he hit Travaris Cadet on a big gain from a wheel route. However, a penalty and some more bad drops didn’t help. Lutz tried a 59-yard field goal, and he had the leg, but it was wide right.

The Saints, who finished the preseason 2-2, ended up losing their fourth straight preseason game to the Ravens dating back to 2014. Now, Sean Payton and company face big decisions for final cuts, as they must be at the 53-man roster limit by Sept. 2nd, and then all the focus goes into Week 1 against the Vikings.