If you need any additional proof that the Saints will have a much tougher time this year than last, you need no more example than Sunday’s game in Arizona as the Saints fell to the Cardinals 30-20 despite nearly doubling their opponents in yardage.
The balls that bounced their way last year when they had a huge turnover advantage on the opposition are no longer doing so.
The Cards scored on two fumbles – one of their own and one by the Saints, fell on two other fumbles that they dropped, intercepted a tipped Drew Brees pass and returned another Brees interception for a score in the loss.
"Our defense gave up 9 points and our offense gave them 21 points and you're goiing to lose everytime like that," said Brees.
"Defensively we were getting stops, but we end up with turnovers, two turnovers for touchdowns, you won’t win many games (that way)," said head coach Sean Payton after the game. "It's all of us collectively starting with me. If we’re to expect different results we have to play better than we played today."
The Saints also had a huge missed 29-yard field goal by the guy they brought in to stabilize the kicking game.
In addition, the Saints have two division foes with better records.
After breaking out to a 10-0 lead by scoring on their first two possessions, the Saints scored only a field goal until there was less than two minutes to go.
The breakdown began with the Saints up 10-3 when Brees attempted a pass out of his own end zone in the second quarter and it was tipped and picked off by Paris Lenon at the Saints two.
The Saints tightened, and Max Hall tried to scramble for a score and was creamed by Anthony Hargrove and fumbled. That fumble bounced right up into the hands of Cardinals offensive lineman Levi Brown who took it the final yard for a 10-10 tie.
The Saints drove for a field goal before half to take a 13-10 lead, but even that drive bogged down, like so many this year, in the red zone at the Arizona 14.
In the second half, the Saints stripped the ball from Max Hall on a scramble and the ball went forward 13 yards and the Cards fell on it for a first down. That drive ended in a field goal to tie the game at 13.
The Saints answered with another long drive that started on their own 28 and ended at the 11, but Carney missed the short try and it remained tied.
"That was part of a number of things," said Payton when asked about his team's kicking woes. "That was three points. Obviously we’ve got to, after five games, be able to make these field goals when we’re in positon to make them. It’s one part of a lot."
On the next drive, the Cards Beanie Wells recovered his own fumble and Arizona was able to get a field goal to make it 16-13.
The Saints got the ball on their own 20 and on the second play, Ladell Betts fumbled the ball and the Cards’ Kerry Rhodes picked it up in stride for a 27-yard score to make it 23-13.
Brees hit Robert Meachem for a touchdown with just under two minutes to go to make it 23-20, but the Saints onsides kick try failed and a very late drive attempt ended with Brees being picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a touchdown.
The Saints moved to 3-2 on the year, behind division foes Atlanta at 4-1 and Tampa at 3-1.