The Saints haven’t been a great road team this year, something that’s often blamed on the difficulties involved with playing outdoors rather than in the Superdome.
It seems the issues can’t all be explained away by the presence of the elements, though. The Saints offense had an erratic day and quarterback Drew Brees turned the ball over three times in a 27-16 Rams victory in St. Louis that kept the Saints from claiming a playoff spot.
The Saints will have to play well away from home to hold off the Panthers for the division title or they will have to win outside New Orleans for three straight weeks to make the Super Bowl. The problems on offense started right away as Brees was picked off on his first throw and flared up throughout the night as the offensive line continually got run over. Brees was sacked four times and linemen were flagged several times for penalties while trying to handle their business.
Defensive end Robert Quinn had two sacks and forced a fumble to help stake the Rams to a 27-3 lead that the defense maintained by forcing the Saints to exchange a lot of clock for points down the stretch. New Orleans had a chance to make things more interesting with just under two minutes to play, but kicker Garrett Hartley badly shanked a short field goal try and the Rams celebrated.
It was Hartley’s second miss of the game and one last frustration on day with no shortage of them. Jimmy Graham had just two catches, the run defense was torn apart by 133 yards from Zac Stacy and the defense produced neither a turnover nor a sack. The poor effort may turn out to be nothing more than delayed gratification for the Saints, but you can be sure it will be remembered as something much worse than that if the Saints are on the road in early January.