Saints lose crucial game, playoff hopes in jeopardy

Zachary Brandwein, Staff Writer

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Shivani Bondada

Monday night’s loss was a real heartbreaker, both for Saints players and their fans. Leading by 13 with 5:34 left on the clock, the Saints faced a third and one at their own 49-yard line. According to ESPN’s win probability calculator, the Saints had a 98.7% chance to win the game at this point, and this was after deciding to kick a field goal on fourth and two from the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s 11-yard line. Andy Dalton threw a checkdown to Marquez Calloway, which hit the ground and stopped the clock. Facing fourth and one, with 5:31 left, Coach Dennis Allen decided to send his punt team out instead of basically icing the game. 

What’s worse is that the opposing quarterback was Tom Brady, who was tied for the most fourth quarter comeback drives ever. Surprising absolutely nobody, Brady led the Bucs down the field twice, scoring touchdowns on both drives to win the game 17-16. 

Anyone who has followed football since 2010 should know that Allen’s choice to punt comes as no surprise. On Oct. 14, 2012, Dennis Allen was coaching the then Oakland Raiders. Instead of letting kicker Sebastian Janikowski kick a 58-yard field goal, he sent his punt team out. His raiders were at the opposing team’s 40-yard line, and their team ended up losing that game by 3 points. 

Even last week against the 49ers, facing a fourth and one from their own 45, Allen sent out his punt team. Although that decision didn’t really affect the score, it still reflects Allen’s conservative philosophy. This game was a must win for the Saints, who have now lost four of their last five games and are currently last place in what could be considered the worst division in football. With a win, the Saints would have leapfrogged the Falcons and Panthers to take second place in their division, and their 5-8 record would only be one loss worse than the first place Buccaneers, who would have been 5-7. 

Andy Dalton played well, completing 71.4% of his passes for 229 yards and a touchdown. The Saints’ run game continues to be underwhelming, with 25 combined attempts for 66 yards and a long of 7 yards. The rookie wide receiver duo of Chris Olave and Rasheed Shaheed were one of the only bright spots in the game, combining for 140 of Dalton’s 229 yards. The only other bright spot from the game was the Saints’ defense. Although they only sacked Brady once, they added two turnovers, which was a season high for them. They also held Brady to 281 yards on 54 attempts, and held the Bucs leading receiver — Chris Godwin — to only 63 yards, while missing both Marshon Lattimore and P.J. Williams. 

The Saints have a bye week this week, but then play the Falcons at home on Dec. 18th. 

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