NEW ORLEANS — The experience in London is enormous, it's a spectacle, and thousands of New Orleanians and Minnesotans made the trip. The reviews from fans who went are overwhelmingly positive.
The downside for Who Dats...is that the Vikings were the ones smiling when it was over.
The Saints were close in London. They were better overall...there are positives, but it's still not good enough.
Four games in, the Saints are last in the NFC south...but only one game out of first.
Let's start our four takeaways with this...
#4: Justin Jefferson's domination
Justin Jefferson is a beast. Actually, that line is from a Vikings fan Ricardo interviewed in a London bar..although he said it sort of in a drunken slur, but he's right.
Marshon Lattimore had largely shut down DJ Moore and Mike Evans...but not Justin Jefferson. Jefferson had 10 catches for 147 yards against the Saints...by far the biggest day any receiver has had against the Saints so far this season.
Obviously, football fans in Louisiana got to know Justin Jefferson for his LSU days. Jefferson had 1500 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in LSU's amazing 2019 National Championship Run.
Jefferson was part of the Tigers' 2017 recruiting class, which was 24 players, three five-star guys, and 11 four-star guys, who made up the backbone of that championship team. Nine three-star guys as well.
There was one two-star, one guy who really had no business thinking he could play for LSU...that was Justin Jefferson.
Justin Jefferson was a terrific player at Destrehan, but nowhere near the top 100 receivers in the country in his class, now he's the best anywhere.
He entered the NFL in 2020, and you could argue he's been the top receiver in the league since then.
#3: Penalties, penalties, and...more penalties
Penalties continue to kill the Saints. The numbers are getting more impressive.
In this game, the Saints were penalized 10 times for 102 yards, that's twice as many penalties as the Vikings...for almost three times as many yards.
This week, the killer penalties came on defense. Saints penalties gave the Vikings first downs an incredible five times.
On the 4th quarter drive in which the Vikings took the lead 25-22...three times the Saints were called for penalties. All three on third down, all three extended that Minnesota drive.
Certainly, several of them were questionable, but the Saints have got to figure out a way to eliminate penalties.
At two...and probably the best thing going forward...
#2: Revitalized rushing attack
We saw a return of big boy football. The Saints ran the ball very effectively for 111 yards total.
And for the first time this season, they found some offensive rhythm with three long touchdown drives.
On those three drives, they ran it 20 times and threw it 14 times.
Latavius Murray ran really well.
Remember back in 2020 when Drew Brees had no real zip left on his fastball?
The Saints won 12 games by running the ball. They were 6th in the NFL in rushing, and their magic number was 120 yards rushing in a game. They did that 11 times, and 10 ten of those games.
I think running the ball is a huge key to offensive success going forward...and the Saints might have discovered that in London.
And at number one...
In this case, punched-out fumbles killed the Saints Sunday. Two more lost turnovers, that's 11 giveaways, most in the NFL, and -7 in turnover margin, which is also worst in the NFL.
In fact, the three teams at the bottom of the heap in turnover margin are a combined 3-8-1. Nothing else really matters except this - if you give it away like the Saints are, you're gonna lose no matter what.
It's the same song we heard last week, although the fact that Will Lutz actually had a shot to tie this thing up at the end is amazing, considering the penalties and turnovers.
There was enough good that if they can stop giving it away, maybe they can get this thing turned around.
And that's my four takeaways...from the Saints' loss in London.