The New Orleans Saints dropped their second game of the preseason in a narrow 27-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday.
But, digging deeper, the loss had more to do with poor officiating than overall team performance.
Before bashing the replacement referee’s, in fairness the Saints defense — who had played well against both the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots — had their worst outing of the preseason against Jacksonville.
Second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert completed 13 of 16 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns, guiding the normally anemic Jaguars offense on touchdown drives of 80 and 66 yards in the first half.
New Orleans first team run defense was also gashed for 86 rushing yards before giving way to the back-ups.
It was a performance that is sure to have new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo preaching fundamentals for the rest of the preseason.
Despite the horrible play of the defense, the Saints second and third string units battled the team back in the second half, only to be cut down by the poor officiating.
There were numerous questionable calls against the Saints throughout the game, evident by their the game high 12 penalties for 132 yards.
Keep in mind the Saints are typically one of the least penalized teams in the league during the regular season.
First, towards the end of third quarter, rookie corner Corey White appeared to have intercepted backup quarterback Chad Henne on the Saints 13 yard line.
But after a lengthy review the call was overturned to the shock of the announcers and on-looker’s throughout the stadium.
The replay of White’s interceptions clearly showed that had two hands on the ball and maintained possession as he rolled on the ground before popping up and advancing down the field.
Once overturned the Jaguars were given a second chance which enabled them to get off a Josh Scobee 47-yard field goal that gave them a 20-17 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The final two “nails in the coffin” came in the closing seconds of the game after the Saints took a 20-24 lead thanks to a touchdown pass from Chase Daniel to rookie running back Travaris Cadet.
With 56 seconds remaining the Jaguars faced a fourth and eleven from their own 37 yard line after facing a stiff New Orleans defense.