The New Orleans Saints' playoff aspirations took a step back on Thursday Night Football as they lost to the Los Angeles Rams. New Orleans rallied back down 30-7 to make the score 30-22 in the fourth, but their comeback was too little too late.
Up: Chris Olave
Wide receiver Chris Olave started hot on Thursday Night Football. Olave recorded 3 receptions for 36 yards and was bound for a big game. The second-year receiver ended the day with 9 receptions for 123 yards.
Olave had a rough patch during the season that raised many questions about his and quarterback Derek Carr’s relationship, but in the last five games Olave has appeared in, he's averaged 95.6 yards. Olave’s performance on Thursday would put him over 1,000 yards on the season.
Chris Olave now has over 1,000 yards receiving this season.— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) December 22, 2023
Olave’s great statistical performance didn't go without its downs. During the closing minutes of the first half on a crucial 3rd and 5, Carr threw a pass to Olave coming out of the backfield on a Texas route. Although a little behind him, this pass would hit Olave in his hands and be dropped. Olave would also drop another catchable pass later in the game.
Up: A.T. Perry
Rookie wide receiver A.T. Perry only had one reception on Thursday, but it was a clutch 36-yard touchdown catch over Rams cornerback Cobie Durant to bring the Saints within one score. Perry has seen increased playtime due to an injury veteran wide receiver Michael Thomas suffered against the Minnesota Vikings. The 6’5 rookie has only recorded eight receptions so far this season. Of those eight receptions, Perry has flashed his potential and shown his skillset.
A.T. PERRY NO WAY LET’S GOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/2ZsJMYRgeY— Jared Block (@jaredrblock) December 22, 2023
Down: Dennis Allen
New Orleans’ matchup with Los Angeles on Thursday was the team's biggest game of the season. A loss to the Rams would almost guarantee the Saints can’t make a wild card spot. And during the team’s biggest game, on primetime TV, head coach Dennis Allen was outcoached by a large margin. The Rams held a comfortable lead throughout the entirety of the game, often capitalizing off of Allen’s over-aggression.
On the Saints’ final offensive drive before halftime, the offense failed to convert a third down conversion and would attempt to go for it on 4th and 5 near midfield. This would prove to be a significant mistake as the offense couldn't convert and Los Angeles would drive down the field with three timeouts and score a touchdown before the half ended. Allen would go for it on 4th down twice after this, ending the day 0/3 on fourth down conversions.
Allen said he knew they would have to be aggressive because field goals wouldn't be enough to beat a team such as the Rams. Which is fair enough, but the Saints are now 7-8 and currently out of the playoff picture in a weak division with a weak strength of schedule. After Thursday’s loss, Allen’s record as a head coach dropped to 22-46.