Jim Henderson / Sports Director
There are disappointing losses. And there are disastrous losses. Yesterday the Saints suffered a disappointing one. Yesterday the Giants, Bucs, and -- to a lesser degree -- the Rams all suffered disasterous ones.
The Giants -- playing at home -- blew a 21-point lead in the final seven and a half minutes to lose to the Eagles. The Bucs -- playing at home -- lose to Detroit in over-time...the Lions' first road win in three years. And the Rams -- playing at home -- lose to the Chiefs and a quarterback who had a body part extracted 11 days before.
If you're the number one wild card as the Saints currently are St. Louis is just where you want to go for your first play-off game. Only in the NFC West can you find a 6-8 football team leading its division trying to fend off another 6-8 football team in the Seahawks who have dropped 6 of 8 and have a quarterback controversy.
St. Louis -- short road trip, domed stadium, dominated by the Saints two games ago, a 4-3 defense against whom the Saints were 11 of 16, 69 percent in third down conversions.
Yesterday the Saints converted 38 per cent of their third downs against the Ravens. The Saints converted 35 per cent of their third downs this season against the AFC North, three-quarters of whom play a 3-4 defense. The Saints have converted 55 percent of their third downs against their other opponents.
The Ravens are now 12-2 in Baltimore all-time against NFC teams that play home games indoors and have won six straight. The winning recipe is a simple one: run the football...take care of the football.
The black-clad Ravens ran for 208 yards. The white-clad Saints ran for 27. The Saints simply didn't put enough "white on rice" as Ray Rice gashed them for 153 yards rushing.
Take care of the football. The Saints fumbled three times and were lucky to lose just one. They were intercepted once. The Ravens never fumbled and never came close to throwing an interception.
In his last nine games Joe Flacco has thrown 18 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Yesterday his top threee wide receivers each had one catch. In Baltimore in December with that defense that's usually good enough. Overall the Ravens are 6-1 at home this season, the only loss coming against Pittsburgh by 3 points.
The Saints yesterday were not out-classed, but they were out-scored. They were beaten by a better team at a time and a place where that team plays its best.
You don't have to like it. But you do have to accept it for what it is: a disappointing loss, hardly a disasterous one. Look around the NFL yesterday and you can see the difference.