That 18-17 game after the Saints were ahead 17-0 in the fourth quarter just has an extra level of sting from a regular loss.
However, as I talk about this game from my point of view, I don’t think the Saints played poorly in any aspect. Could they have been better on offense after Carr left? Sure. But what do you expect to happen when you game plan around one quarterback and have to throw it out the window when he gets hurt?
I have two critical points that I want to address here, and then it’s time to look at Tampa Bay.
- Quit bashing Blake Grupe
- it’s hard to be mad at the defense
First, the Grupe point.
Blake Grupe is an undrafted free agent kicker that beat out a Pro Bowler in Wil Lutz. I don’t know about you, but I tend to trust what Mickey Loomis is doing. I don’t always love what he does with the cap and some decisions he makes, but it always tends to work out. Grupe was a perfect 5-5 before missing that kick. I heard people say “thats what we get for trading Lutz” like they don’t have the same numbers on the season. You can be upset with Grupe that he missed the kick, but if you think he’s the reason the Saints lost, you might need to study more football.
Now to the defense.
There were moments where this group flat out didn’t play well, I’ll admit it. But it’s hard to pin the loss on them for their performance in the fourth quarter. Of course you would’ve liked them to step up late in the game when the Packers started coming back, but think back to the short drives the offense had that kept putting the defense back on the field with very short rest. This group got gassed late in the game and it’s hard to say it’s solely their fault or even the offenses because it’s hard to recover from losing your starting quarterback.
Staying on the topic of the defense, Alontae Taylor was incredible. Pass breakups, flying around the field, even getting to the quarterback for a sack. I really liked what I saw from the second-year DB from Tennessee.
Now, with all of this said, the Saints return home on Sunday to host their division foe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Can the Saints start 2-0 in the NFC South without Derek Carr? I think they can, but the defense is going to have to step up in critical situations against a bad quarterback in Baker Mayfield.
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