PHILADELPHIA — Though Sean Payton won’t say it, the Saints finally found the amount of injuries to key players, Pro Bowl players, a bridge too far in a 40-29 loss to the Eagles.
It was the third straight loss for the Saints who now return to face the Bills on Thanksgiving and then the Cowboys a week later, also on a Thursday.
Playing without three-fifths of the starting offensive line – all of whom were either former Pro Bowl or All Pro players - a Pro Bowl running back, a former Offensive Player of the Year and the season’s starting quarterback, the Saints dug a hole for the third straight week. This time, they couldn’t come out of it to make it a game.
"We didn’t do the things necessary to win in our league – pretty much in every phase. Turnovers were significant," said Payton. "We struggled defending their run game and our return game was just average."
What’s even more ominous is the Saints have a short week with a game Thanksgiving night, so just how much help will be coming with injured players returning on a week with probably one practice is likely limited at best.
It’s been said often the past few weeks that this team has no margin for error and, well, there were plenty of errors in the first half alone – including a pick-six and an interception that set up the Eagles in Saints territory.
"I don't want to talk about the injuries," said Payton. "There were a lot of things we did that weren't injury-related."
A fumble by Mark Ingram led to an Eagles field goal in the second half.
The Eagles first score came after T.J. Edwards picked off Trevor Siemian in the first quarter. Siemian was shaky and misfiring through most of the first three quarters until, he said, the Eagles went into a shell defense, allowing more yardage but not big plays.
"I put our team in a hole early and it's tough to dig yourself out from that," said Siemian.
The Eagles scored seven plays later and followed that up with another touchdown drive after forcing the Saints on a three and out. Both touchdowns were short runs by Quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The only small window Sunday where it looked like the Saints could get back in the game came on the next possession when Christian Ringo punched the ball out from Miles Sanders and the Saints took over on the Eagles six. A touchdown pass from Siemian to Adam Trautman to cut it to 14-7.
Similar to last season's loss against the Eagles where Miles Sanders and Hurts ran wild and free, the Saints were again torched by the duo with Sanders getting 94 yards on only 16 carries and Hurts getting 71 more on 16 carries, three of which ended with touchdowns.
The Saints actually cut the 33-7 lead to 33-19 and had the ball inside the Eagles 15-yard line with over ten minutes to go, but they settled for a field goal and then watched the Eagles go on the game-clinching drive.
Siemian finished 22 of 40 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions