Saints lose in a heartbreaker, fans want McAllister on the field
For the third straight week the New Orleans Saints’ offense had an opportunity to seal away a victory and they came up short with yardage in running plays.
The Saints’ offense was bailed out of game No. 1 when a late game interception by linebacker Scott Fujita sealed a 24-20 victory for New Orleans against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The last two weeks the Saints were not as fortunate.
The Saints lost a 9-point lead in the fourth quarter to the Washington Redskins 29-24, but this past week was even more disappointing than the week before.
The Saints were down quickly to the Denver Broncos 21-3, but the team fought back to close the gap 34-32 late in the game. In a critical third and one yard for a first down, Broncos outside linebacker D.J. Williams stuffed Saints halfback Pierre Thomas for a 1-yard loss and forced the Saints to attempt a 43-yard field goal.
Then it got back to heartbreak.
Place-kicker Martin Gramatica had not missed a field goal while wearing the black and gold in a regular season game, but the thin air of Denver must have affected his kicking.
With two minutes remaining the accurate field goal kicker sailed a 43-yard attempt wide right and the Broncos improved their record to 3-0.
The loss dropped the Saints to a 1-2 mark early in the 2008 season and now they are in last place behind Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Carolina in the NFC South Division.
Yes, the Saints’ defense gave up 34 points and 369 total yards, but they were not the reason this football club lost to the Broncos.
Everyone expected a shootout with one of the most talented young group of offensive players in the NFL, but what has to be disappointing is the Saints inability to rush the football consistently and Gramatica’s two field goal misses of 51 and 43 yards.
Right now the Saints don’t have a runner that can grind out those critical tough yardage spots late in games.
And blame cannot just be put on the running backs because the play of the offensive line as a run blocking unit has been less than stellar.
Reggie Bush has done his job out on the field. This week Bush accounted for 178 yards of total offense on rushes, pass receptions and punt returns.
So far this season the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner has accounted for 487 yards of total offense and he is getting the job done in an all-purpose manner, but this football club has really struggled running the ball.
Many feel as though the answer to the Saints rushing woes is to play Deuce McAllister more than the token appearances we saw him play in Washington against the Redskins, but if the Saints offensive line can’t play more physical and defeat one-on-one blocks better it doesn’t matter who is in the backfield.
The Saints showed a lot of heart and grit to bounce back from an 18-point deficit, but they still have not shown the ability to seal the deal when the game is on the line and they need to get that important one or two yards to move the first-down chains.
The sting of this loss will last quite a while.
Mike Detillier can be reached by email at email@example.com.