Saints error-prone, Brees' home TD-streak snapped
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees let a shotgun snap sail through his hands for a 22-yard loss on the New Orleans Saints’ third play against Detroit.
The rest of Sunday didn’t get any better for Brees or the Saints.
A week after throwing four touchdown passes in a 49-21 rout of the Rams, Brees went without a scoring toss for the first time in 60 home games. New Orleans (5-7) lost 28-13, remaining two games behind Atlanta in the NFC South with four to play.
Brees salvaged another 300-yard passing day on a meaningless drive in the final seconds. But he also tossed a season-high three interceptions. His quarterback rating of 63.3 was by far his lowest of the year after he entered with the third-best rating in the NFL (109.1). It was his worst rating in any game since a 24-6 loss to Houston on Nov. 29, 2015.
“We looked sluggish,” coach Sean Payton said. “It looked like we came off a short week or something.”
The Saints failed to pick up a first down on third-and-1 the first two times they had the ball, beginning with Brees’ flubbed snap.
“I kind of took my eyes off it to look up to see what was happening and mishandled it,” he said. “That’s on me. You have to convert third downs to keep drives alive, and we didn’t do it at the start. I don’t know what it was in the second half, but I know it was pretty abysmal in the first half.”
That was one of many missed opportunities for the Saints.
One play before the botched snap, Mark Ingram appeared to have room along the sideline for first-down yardage, but stepped out of bounds just short.
On Detroit’s opening series, cornerback Sterling Moore dropped a deflected pass near the sideline with no one between him and the end zone. Detroit then kicked a field goal.
“I should have high-pointed it instead of letting it come down and slipping through my hands,” Moore said. “We would have had momentum from the get-go.”
Tight end Coby Fleener dropped a pass in the end zone with 5 seconds left in the first half, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal to make the score 13-6.
“I feel like I let him (Brees) down, and I’m sure other guys do as well,” Fleener said. “It’s a tough feeling.”
Defensive end Cameron Jordan let a pass he batted in the air slip through his grasp for what could have been an interception when the Saints trailed 19-13 in the fourth quarter. On the next snap, the Lions’ Matthew Stafford connected with Golden Tate for a 66-yard touchdown.
The long scoring toss was Detroit’s third conversion on a third down of 10 or more yards, leading to 16 points.
“We’re probably ranked dead last in third-and-long in the league right now,” New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “We give up those big plays that really stab us.”
The Saints, who have not been above .500 since making the playoffs in 2013, will have to win their last four games to get a winning mark this year.
“We don’t like being up and down,” Brees said. “But that’s the way it’s been the past few years, and this year as well.”