Poor special teams play causes Saints to fall to Titans, lose second straight

Benny Greenspan, Contributing Reporter

Matthew Tate

After losing to the Atlanta Falcons last week, the New Orleans Saints lost their second straight game on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee as the Tennessee Titans narrowly pulled away, winning 23-21. 

Both teams entered this game with key injuries. On the Titans’ side, two-time rushing leader Derrick Henry missed his second straight game after undergoing foot surgery that will put him out for an indefinite amount of time. The Titans were also without Pro-Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, who was just placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, the Saints were once again without starting quarterback Jameis Winston who suffered a season-ending ACL tear, which gave Trevor Siemian his second straight starting job. New Orleans also found themselves without their Pro-Bowl starting running back, Alvin Kamara

Despite the injuries to their two most important offensive players, the Saints managed to outgain the Titans in yards by over 100 with it being 373 against 264

Trevor Siemian had another solid outing as the starter, going 19 for 34 with 298 yards, and a passer rating of 104.8.  

Saints’ fan favorite Mark Ingram excelled in filling Kamara’s role, which he has had to do in previous years with the Saints before his brief vacation as a member of the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans. Ingram put up 47 yards on the ground as well as 61 receiving yards. Ingram also put in a 13-yard rushing touchdown to finish off an 11 play, 87-yard Saint’s drive that cut the Titan’s lead to eight midway through the third. 

On the other side, Ryan Tannehill went 19/27 for 213 yards, while receiver Marcus Johnson broke out for 100 yards receiving on just five catches. 

However, despite outgaining the Titans offensively, the Saints’ poor special teams play throughout the game shot themselves in the foot. Rookie kicker Brian Johnson missed two extra points, which forced the Saints to go for a two-point conversion at the end of the game down 23-21. The attempt to go for two ultimately failed after Trautman’s false start penalty backed the Saints up, leading to an incomplete pass to Ingram that would have tied the game

The Saints’ special teams struggles did not stop with their kicker, however, as a fumble by kick returner Diontae Harris to open the third quarter set up a Titans’ touchdown to increase their lead to 20-6. While the Saints were ultimately able to come back and have a chance to tie, it was too little too late, as the failed two-point attempt sealed the victory for the Titans. 

Next week, the Titans look to extend their winning streak to seven games as they face off against the 1-8 Houston Texans. Meanwhile, the Saints will travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles, with hopes of getting back into the win column after losing two straight. The game will be at noon on Nov. 21 and broadcasted on FOX.