The Saints Fight Hard, Fall in Heartbreaking Fashion to Vikings in London
The Saints took on the Vikings in jolly old London on Sunday morning. They broke out their new black helmets to wear but sadly paired them with their color rush jersey combos, which in this blogger's opinion, looked horrible.
The Saints were playing without some key pieces due to injury. Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Andrus Peat were all ruled out for the game, giving the start at quarterback to the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton. Mark Ingram took the heaviest part of the running load in place of Kamara.
The game started about as bad as possible. The Vikings drove down the field with authority and the Saints had two bad penalties that forced a three-and-out.
It didn't get much better. The defense looked uncomfortable, consistently giving up big play after big play. But, the Saints finally woke up, and Kentavious Street sacked Kirk Cousins and forced a short punt.
But unsurprisingly, the Saints offense did absolutely nothing. Za'Darius Smith sacked Dalton on third down, and the ball switched possession.
And the play the Saints needed happened. The Honey Badger stepped in and stole the ball on a pick from Cousins.
The ball would go back to the Black and Gold with momentum and good field position as the first quarter ended.
The Saints finally started to get something going on offense. The running game started to click. Andy Dalton spread the ball around, hitting Chris Olave, Juice Landry, Juwan Johnson, and Mark Ingram before finally hitting the rookie Olave for the Saints first second quarter touchdown of the season.
The Saints defense kept the energy going. After giving up a first down to Adam Thielen, Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport established their dominance.
The Saints finally slowed down after the punt pinned them deep in their own red zone and they couldn't quite get things going. GIllikin sent the ball away, and the Vikings now had momentum.
They took it on offense and drove all the way down into the red zone. As the half neared its end, the Saints D stiffened, and the Vikings were forced to kick a field goal.
Greg Joseph knocked it through and the Saints had a chance to double down with a half-closing score and the ball coming their way after the halftime break.
Instead, Andy Dalton fumbled the ball.
The Saints D did what they could, and forced another field goal as time ran out. It remained a one score game at the half.
The Saints came out of the locker room with absolutely nothing on offense. The defense did their job, but Deonte Harty fumbled the punt, and the defense didn't even get a chance to sit down.
That of course led to a huge play to Justin Jefferson from Kirk Cousins. The Saints defense absolutely refused to let the game get all the way out of hand, and stood strong for the fourth time on the day. Another Greg Joseph field goal made it a 9 point game.
As the Saints offense came back out onto the field, Mark Ingram didn't join them. He was taken to the locker room due to injury, leaving Latavius Murray as the primary runningback.
After converting a key 4th down, and Dalton slinging a long one to Marquez Callaway, Latavius Murray put the Saints in a position to take the lead.
After being set up with excellent field position after the kick-off, and succeeding on a fake punt, the Vikings took two straight penalties to end the 3rd.
The Saints held the Vikings to yet another Greg Joseph field goal to start the final frame.
The Saints offense came out and absolutely marched down the field behind an excellent rushing attack that finished off with the Stormin' Mormon Taysom Hill powering into the endzone.
And they didn't stop there. The offense tried to give the Vikings two for their mistakes, and the Red Rifle hit Juice in the endzone. Landry was so alone on the play, he may as well have been back in the states.
The Saints were now doing something they hadn't done very much. They were playing with a lead. The defense came onto the field needing to shut the Vikings offense down.
After a horrible call on Tyrann Mathieu, and a completely nonsensical defensive pass interference call on Lattimore, Justin Jefferson got the jet sweep and waltzed into the endzone. (He also celebrated with perhaps the ugliest griddy of all time).
The Saints needed to fight back into the game, now having to contend with the officials as well as the Vikings. They got past the shield in midfield, but stalled. Wil Lutz trotted out to try a monster 60-yard field goal.
And he nailed it.
Now with the game tied, the game hinged on the Saints defense. A big play to Justin Jefferson set the Vikings up in a great spot.
Greg Joseph put the Vikings ahead. The Saints needed a miracle. They got Chris Olave.
The Saints offense did everything they could with the time they were given. It was up to Wil Lutz to outdo himself from the previous drive and kick a 61-yarder to send it to overtime.
Heartbreaking. I just... there are no words I can say to make myself or anyone feel better. The team played good enough to win, but they just came up short. The officials didn't help either. The Saints fell to 1-3 on the season.
The Saints' next game is at the Dome against the Seahawks in the second leg of the Bird Gambit. Kickoff is at noon.