New Orleans Saints fans woke up early to watch their team take on the Minnesota Vikings across the pond in London. Unlike the other three games we've watched this season, the Saints offense was able to score points. Even with that being the case, this game was pretty painful to watch.
From special teams miscues to turnovers to bad calls from the officials, the Saints were lucky to be in this one until the very end. Had their special teams unit not given up massive returns to the Vikings, Minnesota doesn't pull a fake punt that ends up leading to a field goal.
New Orleans had two fumbles that both led to Vikings field goals. That's six points right there and that's what ultimately swung the game.
Yes, the bad calls by the officials in the fourth quarter that allowed Justin Jefferson to walk in for a touchdown late in the game were bad but the Saints only have themselves to blame for this loss.
Saints vs. Vikings takeaways
Chris Olave is THAT dude
Offensive issues aside, the Saints have themselves a star with Chris Olave and he made that perfectly clear during this London tilt with the Vikings. The Ohio State product finished the game with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
It felt like whenever the Saints needed a key first down that Olave was the guy Andy Dalton was throwing to. He was sensational and it was nice to see him get his first professional touchdown. Olave is clearly a star.
Dalton > Winston
While the offense wasn't great, Andy Dalton definitely showed that he's a better option than Jameis Winston while the former No. 1 overall pick recovers from his back fractures. Dalton wasn't perfect by any means and had a bad fumble that led to six Vikings points but he made throws that Winston was blatantly missing during his starts.
Dalton also really impressed me on the two-point conversion when he took the extra time to wait for Jarvis Landry to get wide open. Winston isn't making that play.
The Saints offense stayed in this game because Dalton made clutch throws when needed. He needs to be out there until Winston is fully healthy.
Welcome back Murray!
After spending last year in Baltimore and then returning to New Orleans recently to join their practice squad, Latavius Murray suited up for this game due to the injuries to Alvin Kamara and Tony Jones Jr. Murray looked like the Murray of old, rushing for 57 yards off of 11 carries and finding the end zone once on an impressive run where he bulldozed his way into the end zone.
Murray needs to remain on the active roster moving forward because he was the reason this offense looked as good as it did on Sunday.
Mistakes are killing this team
Penalties were a major issue for the Saints once again. They finished the game with 10 penalties that cost them a whopping 102 yards. That cannot happen and we saw it cost them when it was all said and done.
The special teams unit, as noted in my earlier paragraphs, really crapped the bed in this one. Wil Lutz was the only good part of the special teams unit, as Deonte Harty fumbled a return that gave the Vikings great possession. Earlier in the game, Dalton fumbled when he was trying to make something happen. This all comes down to coaching and it can't continue to be this way if the Saints want to win games.
At the end of the day though, it was nice to see the offense move the ball and score points. I had joked throughout the week that we were all going to be waking up early to watch the offense score three points and credit to them -- They scored 25.
There aren't moral victories in sports though. The Saints are 1-3 and have one hell of a hole to dig themselves out of moving forward.