Green Bay, Wis. — Coach Dennis Allen said it was one that his squad let slip away, and not a single member of the New Orleans Saints organization voted against it.
The Saints (2-1) couldn’t convert a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead against the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field, falling 18-17.
There were enough failures across the board to preclude victory.
OFFENSE: The loss of quarterback Derek Carr was a devastating blow to the squad and offense. New Orleans punted four straight drives after Carr exited with a shoulder injury suffered in the third quarter, and on the team’s last possession, kicker Blake Grupe pushed right the possible game-winning field goal with 70 seconds remaining. Carr (13 of 18, 103 yards, and a score) was decent enough on the field, but the amount of punishment he has absorbed – sacked three times Sunday, and 11 times this season – caught up with the Packers. The obvious security flaws must be addressed. Overall, Jameis Winston (10 of 16 for 101 yards) performed well in relief, putting the team in position to win the game. However, there seemed to be a considerable drop in emotion after Carr’s injury. The rushing game (22 carries for 77 yards) offered some balance, but the Saints failed to score a touchdown on one red zone attempt, and it showed on the scoreboard.
"The defense did a great job, special teams. Everybody worked together & we made it happen."
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) September 25, 2023
DEFENSE: Eighteen points allowed is normally a good day, but not when they come entirely in the fourth quarter and you’re the unit assigned with leading the team. New Orleans needed defensive stops but couldn’t get them when it counted. Pass interference penalties by defensive backs Alontae Taylor and Isaac Yiadom placed Green Bay in position to score once, and the Packers just made a couple of great plays to capitalize on the second touchdown drive. For three quarters, the pass rush was able to knock Packers quarterback Jordan Love out of his comfort zone, but New Orleans couldn’t get him on the grass late (his mobility was a pain to the Saints) and the coverage didn’t hold up as well as desired. Taylor had a tremendous day, and Lonnie Johnson Jr. got an interception, but when the Saints needed a huge play late, it wasn’t there.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Rashid Shaheed’s 76-yard punt return for a score was spectacular and hushed the crowd. It was a great spark. Grupe, on the other hand, is on the roster because he is predicted to make 46-yard field goals. It was the rookie kicker’s first game-winning opportunity, and it didn’t go well. The fact that he had been perfect (5 for 5) on field goals before to that is overshadowed if a key kick is missed, and a clutch kick was missed Sunday. He clearly has the talent, and the NFL is the kind of league where another chance will present itself. Grupe will have opportunities to atone.