Well, thank goodness that’s over. The Carolina Panthers (7-10) pulled off their first season sweep of the New Orleans Saints (7-10) in a 10-7 win at the Caesars Superdome, and it wasn’t pretty — starting quarterback Sam Darnold only completed 5 of his 15 pass attempts for 43 yards on the afternoon. He was intercepted twice. How did the Saints lose this game?
Wil Lutz missed two field goals from distances of 44 and 55 yards, though his second try was deflected by a Panthers defender. Andy Dalton missed a wide-open touchdown pass to Taysom Hill on the second drive of the game and never got his mojo back. Chris Olave lost an uncharacteristic fumble and had several dropped passes. The offensive line struggled to make headway while missing three starters, and promising rookie left tackle Trevor Penning left late in regulation with a foot injury.
It was a mess on offense, and the Saints never took advantage of the opportunities their defense created for them in the second-half shutout. Dalton isn’t it. Neither is offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. Massive changes need to hit the Saints offensively this offseason. But these miscues and self-inflicted wounds have dogged New Orleans all year, and head coach Dennis Allen deserves some blame, too. But it’s not likely to cost him his job.