In Week 6, the New Orleans Saints came close to besting last year's Super Bowl runner-ups, turning a potential blowout into an exciting game.
NOLA was missing Jameis Winston, Marshon Lattimore, and its three top wide receivers on Sunday, yet somehow the team found itself ahead for most of the game. All things considered, the Saints made the most out of their heavily injured squad and put up a decent fight against the reigning AFC North champions.
Here are some stats from the Saints-Bengals game that nonetheless bum us out.
Andy Dalton 162 passing yards
An Andy Dalton-led offense petered out in the second half as the Saints were only able to score two field goals and ultimately lost their lead.
In all fairness, Dalton was without three elite receivers and had to generate chemistry with the likes of Marquez Callaway and Tre'Quan Smith, but still, 162 passing yards is....not enough to win games. At least not a game against one of the most formidable offenses in the league.
Dalton played a pick-free performance and threw a nice touchdown pass to Smith in the first half, and he even converted some third-and-longs to sustain offensive drives. When it came down to crunch time, however, Dalton simply couldn't deliver. By the end of the fourth quarter, Saints had primarily two chances to win the game: one, run down the clock with 3:42 left, and two, score a touchdown with 1:57 left.
Dalton flailed in both those opportunities and hasn't proven he can lead a team to a comeback victory.
3 sacks on Burrow
They should have hit him more. Against an inconsistent Bengals offensive line, the Saints' pass-rush did notch three total sacks on Burrow, but there were a handful of other opportunities they let slip by.
Demario Davis and Kaden Elliss finished with three combined sacks and two quarterback hits, but we wished we could have seen more from edge-rushers Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport to take Burrow down.
To give credit where it's due, Burrow magically weaseled his way out of blitzes and managed to escape when the pocket collapsed.
The Saints' pass-rush production still leaves much to be desired this season.
Ja'Marr Chase 132 receiving yards
This one hurts. After being contained for the start of the season, Ja'Marr Chase exploded for seven catches and 132 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yard touchdown run to win the game.
NOLA was desperately missing Marshon Lattimore in this matchup, and in Lattimore's absence, the pass defense suffered a slight slump and struggle to maintain elite coverage in the open field.
Tyrann Mathieu got smoked by Chase on that touchdown run, making his offseason signing look not so wise in retrospect.
The team has also felt the effects of losing Marcus Williams and Ceedy Duce, though Justin Evans can hopefully grow into the starting slot corner position as the season goes on.
Taysom Hill 39 rushing yards
Hear me out. We're not his biggest fans, but we believe in the stats, and the stats say play Taysom Hill.
The Saints have won two games through six weeks of the season, and in both those victories Hill rushed for 81 yards or more. In the season-opener, Hill scored an early rushing touchdown against Atlanta; in Week 5, he rushed for 112 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns against Seattle.
Of course, this may all be coincidental, but why not ride on the coattails of Hill's success rather than try to disprove it? Don't fix something that's not broke.
Until teams figure out how to effectively defend against Hill, the Saints should be using him more in the run game, at least until Jameis Winston returns to the lineup.
Seeing him rush for a measly 39 yards on Sunday was disappointing, not to mention Hill should have received at least a carry or two at the end of the game when the Saints were trying to run down the clock.
Hill's usage will likely fluctuate for the rest of the season, but this was a matchup when he could have gone off and helped secure a win.
We'll see how much the Saints use Hill in Thursday's fixture against the Arizona Cardinals.