In the NFL if a team does something bad once it is an aberration, twice it is a trend and three times its a problem. Right now, New Orleans has a trend going on their offensive and defensive lines.
For the second week in a row and this time by the Carolina Panthers, the Saints have been manhandled in the trenches. New Orleans had a better start to the game, winning the coin toss and electing to receive the ball.
Drew Brees used just 11 plays to drive the Saints down field in a drive capped off with a one yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham for a 7-0 lead. New Orleans had a nice balance of run and pass to open the game with six passes and five runs.
The Saints defense allowed one Panthers first down before clamping down and forcing a punt. New Orleans had the lead and the ball but backed up deep in their own territory.
On second and eight from the his own nine yard line, Brees rolled right and forced a pass intended for tight end David Thomas. Panthers's safety Charles Godfry would intercept the pass and return it nine yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
Brees would go right back to work on the Saints next drive. New Orleans would work themselves down to the Carolina four yard line but after two incompletions, the Saints would settle for a 22 yard Garrett Hartley field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
New Orleans would would 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Cam Newton would drive Carolina down to the Saints four yard line as the Panthers offense line slowly started to take control of the New Orleans defensive line. On a fourth and one play, Newton would get wrapped up and fumble and the Saints Jonathan Casillas would recover at the New Orleans eight yard line.
The Saints would once again drive deep into Carolina territory to see their drive stall at the Panthers 35 yard line. New Orleans would settle for a 53 yard Hartley field goal to take a 13-7 lead.
This game would turn on the next drive. Carolina and Newton facing a third down and 33 from their own 33 would find Brandon LaFell with a pass for a 35 yard gain.
The Panthers would end up scoring on a 17 yard pass by Newton to running back Jonathan Stewart. Carolina would take a 14-13 lead and never look back.
New Orleans' next drive would end in a three and out. After a nice return to put the ball at their own 42 yard line, the Panthers would go to work.
Carolina would run and pass their way to the New Orleans two yard line. On second and goal, Mike Tolbert burst up the middle for a two yard touchdown run to give the Panthers a 21-13 lead at halftime.
The only score in the third quarter would come on the second drive of the quarter by the Panthers. Carolina would go on an six play drive, added by two long from Stewart 16 yards) and Deangelo Williams (27 yards), that was capped off with a three yard run by Williams.
Williams touchdown gave Carolina a 28-13 lead.
New Orleans would try to mount a comeback near the end of the third quarter. In a drive that would end in the fourth quarter, the Saints go 68 yards in nine plays and score on a one yard Mark Ingram run to cut the deficit to 28-20.
The Saints needing a stop would give up a 66 yard pass gain as Newton found Steve Smith streaking down the sideline. Carolina would score five plays late when Newton ran untouched into the end zone from five yards out to give the Panthers a 35-20 lead.
New Orleans would mount another drive with under five minute left to play in the game. Carolina would go into a prevent mode allowing Brees to complete short passes to eat up clock.
Brees would end a drive that lasted twelve plays and nearly ate up three minutes by diving over the goal line on a first and goal from the one yard line to cut the Carolina lead to 35-27. The Saints would get a stop on defense by using their timouts and get the ball with 48 seconds left in the game.
On the second play of his final drive, Brees would throw an interception to end the game. Newton and the Panthers would take a knee for the 35-27 win.
New Orleans gave up 219 rushing yards to the Panthers and have given up an average of 186 yards in the first two games of the season. The Saints haven't been much better stopping their opponents passing game giving up 244 yards to Carolina and have given up an average of 275 yards through the air.
The first two games of the year has seen the Saints blow pass coverage, miss tackles and get dominated at the line of scrimmage on defense. New Orleans has not been able to get stops on defense when they must.
On offense the Saints' offensive line was much better against the Panthers than the Washington Redskins but Brees was still harassed most of the day by the Carolina defense. Brees even left the game limping in the third quarter after a hit.
All the talk in New Orleans has been about bounties but talk needs start about the lack of blocking and tackling. The Saints needed to respond after their play against the Redskins and did so for the first quarter but reverted back to the same play they had against Washington for the rest of the game.
At 0-2 the Saints season is on the line next against the Kansas City Chiefs. No team in NFL history has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-3 to begin a season.
The Chiefs were beaten 40-24 by the Atlanta Falcons and 35-17 by the Buffalo Bills. There is no excuse if New Orleans loses next Sunday.