The Saints lost 31-21 Sunday to a previously winless St. Louis Rams team inside a sparsely filled Edward Jones Dome, falling to 5-3 at the halfway point of the season.
“It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed,” said Coach Sean Payton, who had just spent the past two weeks stressing to his team the importance of giving a more consistent effort – a point that seemed to get through to them when they routed the Indianapolis Colts 62-7 just seven days earlier.
“You take a step in the right direction. You get going, and you put one of your better games together, and you come back and follow it with a game like this,” Payton said, blaming himself and his staff as well as the players. “It’s obvious we’ve got a lot of work to do to become more consistent, and to put games together and have that sense of urgency that you need to have in this league to win.
“It’s a long season, but if we can’t learn from a loss like this, then we’ll be back where we were a year ago.”
For the record, Payton once again handed over his play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael on Sunday. Though, Payton pointed out, “It wouldn’t have mattered what we called.”
Sean Payton makes no excuses in New Orleans Saints loss to St. Louis Sean Payton makes no excuses in New Orleans Saints loss to St. Louis St. Louis — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said it starts with him the way his team played against the Rams on Sunday. Watch video
From his new vantage point up in the coaching booth, Payton said he could sense that his team looked “flat” to start the game.
The Saints’ offensive line, in particular, was being abused by a Rams defense that was clearly playing its best football of the season. The Saints couldn’t run the ball, and they struggled to protect quarterback Drew Brees.
They were trailing 3-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, even before the Rams (1-6) broke the game open with a blocked punt and an interception that led to two touchdowns and a stunning 17-0 halftime lead.
“They certainly played with more energy than we did,” Payton said. “Defensively, they pretty much handled us all day. It’s been a while since that happened. (The Rams) did a great job. We struggled blocking, we struggled running the ball, we struggled protecting. We didn’t have a lot going for us.”
The Saints’ offensive linemen agreed with Payton’s assessment after giving up six sacks Sunday – the most since Payton and Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006.
Three of those sacks came in the first half, when the game was still competitive. Just as costly, the Saints ran for just 18 yards on nine carries in the first half. The closest they came to scoring in the first half was a missed 49-yard field-goal attempt by John Kasay.