The New Orleans Saints won their second consecutive game of the season when they defeated the Carolina Panthers 41-38 in front of a sellout crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints may have won the game, but their defense needs to a better job by playing in all four quarters of a contest and not just one.
In the first quarter of the Panthers game, the Saints were up 21-0 until the second quarter when Cam Newton and the Panthers offense almost came from behind to hand the Saints their fourth loss of the season.
The Saints inexperience on the defensive side of the football has caused the offense to be in crucial situations this season. They can take some of the pressure off of Drew Brees and the rest of the Saints offense by slamming the door on opponents when they have a chance to.
In my opinion, I believe that the Saints have a solid defense that is capable of making crucial plays, but they must be able to show up to play for the entire football game and not allow opposing teams to mount late fourth-quarter comebacks. In Week 1 against the Raiders, they had an opportunity to deliver the finishing blow but failed to do so in the second half of the football game.
The following week against the Giants, the defense had one of their best performances of the season only to give up a potential game-changing interception in the final minutes of the ball game. The Saints would go on to lose to the Giants 16-13.
If you take a look at the Saints remaining schedule, the quarterbacks that they will be facing are some of the best at the position, so it will not get any better for their defense. Even with the injuries mounting on defense, they have shown that they are capable of coming up with big plays, however; they must be able close it out in the fourth quarter.
A defense that gives up over 38 points a game will not contend for a playoff spot plan and simple. I am not saying that they need to transform into a Denver Broncos-like defense, but they need to hold opponents to at least 20 points a game. If they can pull that off, they may have a fighter’s chance at making the playoffs this season.
They will have an opportunity to turn the corner against the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, an opponent that is not as explosive as the Saints previous opponents. But they must not take anything for granted when dealing with Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. If the Saints make it back to 500 this Sunday, will it be any different from previous seasons?
Photos courtesy of Today’s Pigskin