NEW ORLEANS — Preseason Week 2 for Sean Payton and the Saints didn’t start off well, and it was a huge reason the team lost to the Cardinals on Friday night.
The Cardinals won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, giving Taysom Hill and company a chance to make something happen to open the game. Brandon Tate got things going with a good 40-yard kick return to put the Saints at their own 37-yard-line. Hill had a good looking drive going until he was picked off from a tipped pass intended for Cameron Meredith — it was a ball that should have been caught. Hill also had a wide open Michael Thomas that he couldn’t connect with because the pass was too high. Jonathan Williams and Mark Ingram looked good on the ground.
The turnover didn’t hurt the team, as the Saints defense would force a 3-and-out on the ensuing possession with Sam Bradford at the helm. Demario Davis made a great play from the first snap by dropping David Johnson for a 1-yard loss. Hill’s next offensive drive struck disaster after some strong rushes from Ingram and Williams, as he fumbled the ball after taking the snap, turning it back over to the Cardinals.
The Saints defense would once again force the Cardinals offense off the field quickly, but their offense had a drive that resulted in them going backwards to bring in the first Thomas Morstead punt of the night. The Cardinals would take advantage this time, getting on the board first after a 6-play, 61-yard drive that was capped off by a 9-yard rushing touchdown by David Johnson.
If you can believe it, Taysom Hill turned the ball over again on the ensuing possession on the second play. Hill tried to hit Ted Ginn Jr. deep, but overthrew him and had it intercepted by Bene Benwikere. The Cardinals would once again cash in, this time with Josh Rosen leading the charge, going 87 yards in 7 plays that finished with a Rosen to Christian Kirk touchdown pass. The Saints got penalized for 45 yards on the drive, which included a questionable roughing the passer call on Trey Hendrickson and a big pass interference penalty from J.T. Gray.
New Orleans finally got on the board after Taysom Hill scrambled for a 43-yard gain on a 3rd and 9, but the Saints went backwards after first down and settled for a 52-yard Wil Lutz field goal to trim the Cardinals lead to 14-3. The Cardinals ended up adding another field goal to extend their lead, and it looked like Hill was going to finally get the Saints into the end zone (again), but had his fourth turnover of the night after fumbling it away. The team did catch a break at the end of the half with a Phil Dawson missed 46-yard field goal.
Entering the second half, the Cardinals weren’t able to do too much on the opening drive, and it was Tom Savage time. Unfortunately, it ended in near disaster when Savage was stripped on a 3rd down play. Thankfully, the Saints would recover at their own 1-yard line. The Cardinals would take advantage of the shorter field and end up extending their lead to 20-3 after a 53-yard field goal from Matthew McCrane.
Savage was finally able to pilot a good looking Saints drive, but wasn’t able to finish. On a 3rd and goal play, Savage was blindsided by a Cardinals defender and took a sack. Somehow, he held onto the ball. Most of the filler into late fourth quarter saw punts, but the Saints were able to add another field goal to make it 20-6.
Rookie J.T. Barrett took over with about six minutes to play in the game, and was able to get the Saints moving on an 8-play, 50-yard drive that was finished off by a 37-yard field goal by Wil Lutz to make it 20-9. Barrett would add a very late touchdown via a 12-yard scramble and then have a failed two-point conversion to make it 20-15.
Not spotted during warmups included Marcus Davenport, Alex Okafor, Michael Hoomanawanui, P.J. Williams, and Landon Turner. Cameron Jordan, Alvin Kamara, and Drew Brees were also among those players that did not play.
The Saints will look to put this loss behind them quickly and focus on their nationally televised prime time game against the Chargers on Saturday.
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