Sunday’s return to the Caesar’s Superdome seemed to have all the elements of a big New Orleans Saints win.
The first real home game of the season after Hurricane Ida’s destruction. The return of a raucous crowd. Emotions riding high. There were definitely vibes of the first home game of 2006 after Katrina, though not as much.
And yet somehow, New Orleans managed to fumble what seemed like a perfect storm, losing to the previously winless NY Giants 27-21 in overtime.
The loss dropped the Saints to an even 2-2 on the season, with the offense stalling in key situations and the defense looking gassed by the end, surrendering big plays to Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
New Orleans, traditionally good in October, found a way to play down to the level of their opponent. As usual. It happens every year.
New Orleans Saints have played down to their opponents frequently under Sean Payton, and Sunday’s loss to the NY Giants was no different
Sometimes they surprise us as they did against the Packers in that blowout Week 1 win. Then they go on the road to Carolina, a worse team, and lose in a blowout.
Last season, the Saints lost to an Eagles team quarterbacked by Jalen Hurts destined for nowhere as New Orleans was trying to make a playoff push. Granted, Taysom Hill was quarterbacking the black and gold, but the point still stands. They also lost to the mediocre Raiders on Monday Night Football last season, an environment that NOLA typically thrives in.
New Orleans also lost at home in the playoffs to a worse Vikings team in 2019, though that needs no reminder.
Every year, it seems like Sean Payton’s team finds a way to lose games they should win. That may sound like every team in the NFL at some point, but it’s the truly elite teams that find a way to beat who they’re supposed to beat, like New Orleans needing to win their first real home game of 2021 against a then-winless Giants squad.
It’s these losses that often come back to determine playoff positioning. And the Saints have had more than their fair share of these disappointing losses.