RECAP: Eagles defeat the Saints, 24-21
The Saints never led, turning in what may be their worst all-around performance of the season.
Well. Eventually, all good things must come to an end. So it goes with the Saints’ winning streak and their recent good fortune without Drew Brees under center.
The Saints waltzed into Philadelphia on a 9-game winning streak and with a victory today, would have clinched the NFC South for the fourth consecutive season. Instead, after losing to the Eagles (4-8-1) they’ll leave Philly at 10-3 and on the losing end of a tiebreaker with the Green Bay Packers for the number one overall seed in the conference. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Vikings, meaning the Saints will have to wait another week for a chance at the NFC South crown.
The Saints defense, which ranked first in the league in yards allowed coming into the game, was befuddled by rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts, who made his first NFL start. The Saints had not allowed an individual 100-yard rusher in 55 straight games (an NFL record), but in true 2020 fashion, managed to allow two in one game, with Hurts recording 106 yards on the ground and running back Miles Sanders racking up 115 yards, thanks in part to an 82-yard TD run. In the first half, the Saints spotted the Eagles a 17-0 lead.
The Saints offense didn’t fare much better in the first half. After Sanders’ touchdown run and a missed Wil Lutz field goal, New Orleans had absolutely nothing going. Then, with time expiring in the second quarter, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott doinked a 22-yard field goal off the left upright and the momentum began to shift.
The defense forced an Eagles three-and-out on the first drive of the third quarter and the Saints took over the game for three drives, scoring on an Alvin Kamara 5-yard TD run, forcing a turnover on downs after stuffing Jalen Hurts on a QB keeper, and finally scoring on a 37-yard bomb from Hill to Emmanuel Sanders.
With the Saints only down 17-14, they then drove the ball all the way to the Eagles 48 yard line. On what looked like a manageable 4th and 2, the Eagles sacked Hill and regained possession, with Miles Sanders eventually scoring again and increasing their lead to 24-17. The Saints never recovered.
They would, however, make it interesting in the waning moments. Hill threw his second touchdown of the game, hooking up with tight end Jared Cook with 1:24 remaining in regulation after the Saints recovered a Jalen Hurts fumble. The Saints attempted an onside kick that appeared to ricochet off an Eagles player’s leg and into the arms of Saints linebacker Craig Robertson, but the Eagles somehow recovered.
In his fourth start, Taysom Hill ended the day with 2 TDs on 28/38 passing with 291 yards through the air. Alvin Kamara paced the team on the ground with 50 yards and a score, and Michael Thomas led the team in receiving with 8 catches and 84 yards.
The Saints came out flatter than a month old open can of Coke. They were soundly outplayed and out-coached by the Eagles, and despite their second half resurgence, probably deserved to lose this one. The defense was consistently caught out of position and the offensive line turned in its worst performance of the season, allowing five sacks and 12 QB hits. The Saints, meanwhile, failed to record a single sack and only hit Hurts three times.
It was a recipe for disaster, and the tape will surely illuminate the areas in which the team needs to improve before the 12-1 Kansas City Chiefs – the defending Super Bowl champions – come to town next week.