Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Saints
December, 2, 2013
By Mike Triplett | ESPN.com
SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 34-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which moved them to 9-3 on the season.
What it means: Obviously this ugly loss doesn't bode well for the Saints' Super Bowl hopes. Not only did they get dominated on both sides of the ball in a fashion we haven't seen much in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era, but the Seahawks (11-1) essentially locked up the NFC's home-field advantage. That means the Saints would almost certainly have to come back here in January -- if they make it that far.
But the Saints can't look that far ahead. Not with a huge showdown looming just six days from now against the Carolina Panthers (9-3) in New Orleans. The Saints need to win at least one of two December games against the Panthers to win the NFC South. The Saints are obviously a better team than what they showed on Monday night. But they'll still have a tough time against a Panthers team that poses a lot of the same problems as the Seahawks -- a physical, stifling defense, a power run game and a mobile dual-threat quarterback.
Brees shut down: Saints quarterback Drew Brees had one of his most ineffective games ever as a Saint. He completed 23 of 38 passes for just 147 yards -- his lowest total since 2006. He threw one touchdown pass and didn't throw any interceptions, but his fumble while being sacked in the first quarter was the biggest play of the game. It was returned 22 yards for a Seattle touchdown -- the kind of unforgivable mistake the Saints knew they had to avoid in this matchup. Brees tried to challenge Seattle's outstanding cornerback Richard Sherman deep twice, but Sherman broke up both passes. Nothing was working for the Saints on Sunday.
Stock watch: Just about everybody's stock went down on Sunday night, with the Saints struggling in so many areas. The area that probably stood out most, however, was the Saints' pass coverage. They obviously sold out to stop running back Marshawn Lynch in this game (and did a solid job against Lynch). But they got torched repeatedly by deep passes. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, on passes of 60, 52 and 33 yards. Sometimes the receivers were wide open in coverage breakdowns. Once he beat cornerback Keenan Lewis, and once he beat safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Up next: The Saints will host the Panthers, which is good news since the Saints are so much more dominant at home (6-0 this year). But it's never easy for teams to bounce back from Monday night games across the country on a short week -- especially after such a physical matchup. This will be the Saints' first meeting of the year against Carolina, which is the NFL's hottest team with eight straight wins.