NEW ORLEANS -- Last week, Brandin Cooks was unhappy with the New Orleans Saints’ offense.
He won’t be alone this week.
Brees failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 61 home games -- ending his NFL-record streak. He also threw three interceptions while completing 31 of 44 passes for 326 yards (most of which came in catch-up mode).
Just when it looked like the Saints might be on the verge of a late-season playoff push, they dropped this dud.
“We’re up and down,” said a frustrated coach Sean Payton, who called his own plays for the second time this season after it worked so well in last week’s 49-21 rout over the Los Angeles Rams. “Obviously we were sluggish. It looked like we came off a short week or something.”
A week ago, the Saints gave their most complete performance of the season, which practically had Payton dancing on the sideline. But they followed up with their most complete loss of the season.
Everyone was to blame for this stinker -- including a defense that played bend-but-don’t break for three quarters until it finally broke by allowing a 66-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Golden Tate on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter.
Even punter Thomas Morstead, the most reliable player on the team, shanked a punt late in the game.
But it was the offense that was most disappointing since it flopped from start to finish, one week after posting seven touchdowns and 55 yards.
Cooks -- who expressed his frustration last week after being targeted zero times in 45 snaps -- led the Saints with seven catches for 73 yards. But most of those came in hurry-up mode as well.
Cooks didn’t have a catch in the first 29 minutes. Michael Thomas' 2-yard catch was the only catch by any receiver in the first 29 minutes as the Saints fell behind 13-3 early and never caught up.
Brees’ interceptions were the only three turnovers in the game (one of which came at the goal line on the game’s final play, which was practically a Hail Mary.) Brees also had to recover a fumbled shotgun snap on the opening series.
The Saints’ offense was also stymied by costly penalties (including two holding calls against guard Senio Kelemete).
Payton mentioned penalties among the overall sloppiness after the game.
Up next for the Saints is a trip to Tampa Bay, where they will play the first of two upcoming games against the Buccaneers. The Saints might now need to sweep their final four games (including one at the division-leading Atlanta Falcons in Week 17).