NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints were attempting to finish the preseason 4-0 the first time in team history. However, that record will have to wait.
The Baltimore Ravens (4-0) made five field goals and outgained the Saints 436-190 en route to a 23-12 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Thursday evening.
The Saints (3-1) weren't exactly at full strength, though. Quarterback Drew Brees headlined an long list of Saints who got the night off, including offensive tackles Zach Strief and Terron Armstead, wide receiver Marcus Colston, tight end Jimmy Graham, linebackers Junior Galette and Curtis Lofton, defensive end Cam Jordan, cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Kenny Vaccaro.
'A lot of guys played a lot of snaps tonight,' Saints head coach Sean Payton said. 'Obviously, I think just from the sideline view, we struggled stopping the run and ourselves running the ball. We'll spend some time on this tape. I've said it before in practice it was going to be important in the evaluation process.'
Luke McCown started for the third time in four preseason games and led the Saints on seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive on the team's first possession.
McCown was the beneficiary of good starting field possession on his only series, which began and ended with Travarius Cadet, who returned the kickoff 40 yards and caught the 3-yard touchdown pass from McCown.
'I think as an offense we played well,' McCown said of his only series. 'We were efficient. We moved the ball. The tempo was key.'
Ryan Griffin replaced McCown, who finished 4 of 4 for 29 yards and a touchdown, on the Saints' next possession.
McCown was pleased with his progress and seemingly not the least bit worried about Saturday's impending roster cuts, saying he's 'very confident' he's done enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Griffin, meanwhile, led the offense the rest of the way, finishing 11 of 21 for 126 yards. His best throw, a 52-yarder to Robert Meachem, put the Saints at the Baltimore 11. The Saints couldn't punch it in, though, and Derek Dimke made the first of his two field goals, a 23-yarder.
Dimke also connected from 49 yards just before the end of the first half after a running into the kicker penalty on the Ravens gave him another opportunity following a miss from 54 yards.
Still, Payton didn't tip his had as to whether Dimke or veteran kicker Shayne Graham has the edge in the competition to make the final 53-man roster.
The Saints offense puttered along in the second half and was kept off the scoreboard, while the rushing attack was anemic throughout, totalling just 42 yards on 12 carries. Cadet led the Saints with seven carries for 42 yards while Mark Ingram carried just once for eight.Ingram finished the preseason averaging more than seven yards per carry.
For Baltimore, Tyrod Taylor got the start, going 10 of 17 for 105 yard and one touchdown. However, it was the Ravens running game, minus Ray Rice who did not play, that gave the Saints fits all night. Fitzgerald Toussaint carried 17 times for 103 yards while Lorenzo Taliaferro added another 88 on 25 carries.
Defensive tackle John Jenkins, who began camp on the PUP list, was thrilled to finally get considerable game work.
'You go out there and want to see where you are personally and see how you want to work on things because at the end of the day you are a competitor,' he said.'But it's the preseason and it's one of those things where it's an opportunity for you to work on things that you weren't so good at last year before you get into the year.'