New Orleans Saints fall short to Baltimore Ravens in injury-plagued preseason battle


Football is a game of highs and lows.  The New Orleans Saints traveled to the east coast Thursday night to take on the Baltimore Ravens for their 2015 NFL Preseason opener.

Not all things were pretty, as the Black and Gold seemed to have picked up where they left off a season ago to start the contest.  But again, it’s preseason.  This isn’t a time to get discouraged.  No, it’s the time to learn from your mistakes, get better, find momentum, and then hope that momentum transitions into the regular season.

The New Orleans Saints were down by 17 at one point.  However, after a nice little surge, the Black and Gold were able to tie the game up at 20 with 11:20 left in the game.  It actually looked like the Black and Gold were going to pull it off, up 27-23.  However, the Ravens ran the two-minute drill on Rob Ryan’s defense and found the end zone with two seconds left to reign victorious, 30-27.

Okay, so things started out ugly, but the Saints found a rhythm.  This was the first real game scenario the team has seen in eight months.  Fans cannot get discouraged about the team’s performance, and that includes penalties, which were very common tonight, and likely costed New Orleans the game. The rust has to be shaken off, and that can take a couple of weeks, sometimes longer, but let’s hope that’s not the case.

What is discouraging, though, is the injuries.  Six, I repeat, six players left the game, including Brandon Browner, the secondary’s “savior”, who was carted off with what looked to be a leg or knee injury.  To join Browner, potential starting LB Dannell Ellerbe, corner Delvin Breaux, OL Cyril Lemon (also carted off), LB Ramon Humber and DL Lawrence Virgil.  All we can do is hope for the best, so we’ll move on, focus on the positive now, and keep things updated as news unfolds.

Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive back Brandon Browner (39) is carted off the field after being injured in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in a preseason NFL football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, the Saints hung in there for the most part.  Sure, it happened with the third and fourth team guys in, but some starters/veterans/fan favorites still stood out.

The Ravens had the clear edge at the half, well ahead in total yards.  However, the New Orleans Saints finished the contest with 366 total yards compared to Baltimore’s 359.  The Black and Gold accumulated 266 through the air and 100 on the ground. The Ravens had 254 passing yards and 105 rushing.

New Orleans Saints offensive leaders:

Passing (Drew Brees did not play):

Ryan Griffin – 10 for 17, 112 yards, 1 touchdown
Garrett Grayson – 8 for 12, 87 yds
Luke McCown – 7 of 10, 75 yards, 1 TD

Rushing (C.J. Spiller DNP)

Khiry Robinson – 2 attempts, 35 yds
Tim Hightower – 12 att, 31 yds
Mark Ingram – 4 att, 15 yds
Marcus Murphy – 2 att, 2 yds, 1 TD

Receiving (Marques Colston DNP):

Josh Hill – 3 receptions, 35 yds
Khiry Robinson – 3 rec, 37 yds, 1 TD
Willie Snead – 2 rec, 30 yds
Brandin Cooks – 1 rec, 28 yds, 1 TD

The Saints offense got it going.  The play of the night came on a screen from McCown to Cooks for a 28-yard score.  Quick screens and great blocking are ideal.  Plays like that bring back memories.  Expect to see a ton of that in 2015 between Brees, Cooks and C.J. Spiller, the free agent acquisition who did not play tonight.

Khiry Robinson continued where he left off a season ago, looking like a bulldozer.  And after a quiet start to training camp, tight end Josh Hill finally showed signs of life.  The quarterbacks all played well, including Garrett Grayson, the likely heir to Drew Brees’ throne.

On the defensive side of the ball things started off sloppy, but after letting the Ravens get way ahead, things calmed down.

New Orleans Saints defensive leaders:

Ramon Humber – 7 tackles
Stephone Anthony – 6 tackles
Damian Swann – 1 tackle, 1 interception
Terrence Frederick – 1 interception

A few other guys stood out, so I’ll go ahead and recognize undrafted free agents Bobby Richardson, Tavaris Barnes and Kaleb Eulls as well.  Some of these players are doing all they can to make the final cut, and so far, so good for the three above.

Look, preseason football is preseason football.  Don’t get too excited, but don’t get too disappointed either.  It’s early, plain and simple.  The rust will vanish.  It’s the injuries that are worrisome, which of course Sean Payton refused to talk about during the post-game press conference.  But the New Orleans Saints head coach said the team looked ready, and he’s not one to sugar coat things.  We’ll leave it at that, and we’ll be sure to keep everything up to date as far as injuries.

The Saints will resume practice at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV on Saturday to prepare for their next preseason contest.  New Orleans hosts the New England Patriots Saturday, Aug. 22 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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