Can Saints, Tigers recover from stunning losses?

I can not remember another weekend like the past one in which both LSU and the New Orleans Saints lost to bitter rivals in overtime.

For LSU, the victory was there for the taking.

With Alabama halfback T.J. Yeldon fumbling the ball at the Crimson Tide 6-yard line late in the fourth quarter, LSU was set to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the 2014 college football season.

But it was not meant to be.

Two critical plays gave the Crimson Tide an opportunity to tie the game in regulation and eventually win it in overtime.

Tiger offensive guard Vadal Alexander pushed an Alabama defender and got called for a personal foul penalty that took away field position from LSU, and they settled for a 39-yard field goal.

The call was “iffy” at best and the referee should have kept the flag in his pocket, but that was not the case.

What happened next was even more baffling.

With 50 seconds left and LSU’s defense playing as well as any time in the season, LSU decided to try and squib the ball. Trent Domingue’s kick sailed out of bounds, giving Alabama a starting point at the 35-yard line.

Then, Tide quarterback Blake Sims started to get hot at the right time, leading his team downfield for a game-tying 27-yard field goal.

Alabama dominated in overtime and Sims connected with DeAndrew White for the game-winning touchdown.

It was another gut-wrenching loss to Alabama and Nick Saban.The game against Alabama again points out the one area that has plagued the Tiger team for years – inconsistent play at quarterback.

I can’t blame everything on LSU’s Anthony Jennings, but his erratic nature is apparent. If you want to win big at the college level, you need big game heroics from your quarterback. It is critical for the Tiger coaching staff to develop a scheme that fits their quarterback or go out and find a pro-style quarterback.

For the Saints, it was a back and forth affair.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw the ball as well as I have ever seen him throw against New Orleans, but his receivers dropped six passes.

Still, missed opportunities, turnovers and a huge mental breakdown in coverage late in regulation on a fourth down play led the 49ers to swipe a game away from the Saints, 27-24.

A positive was that Mark Ingram, who was running against one of the league’s elite run-stopping defenses, rushed for more than 100 yards for the third week in a row. Tight end Jimmy Graham also seems to be back in top form after suffering a shoulder injury, and the Saints pass rush produced four quarterback sacks.

However, turnovers, critical mental breakdowns and spotting points to opponents is not a recipe for wins in the NFL.The Saints are 4-5 and four of those five losses came in games in which they were leading late, lost the lead and failed to close the “football deal.”

The Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens are up next, and the Saints will play them both in New Orleans.  The Saints are still a good football team, but they continue to have mental breakdowns in critical areas and are turning the ball over too much.

When you win, the week just flies by. When you lose, it seems as though it lasts a month.

With overtime losses for both LSU and the Saints, this week has seemed to last three months.


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