The New Orleans Saints had a golden opportunity to get back into the playoff picture on Monday night, leading the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-3 with just over six minutes to go.
But veteran running back Mark Ingram inexplicably stepped out of bounds a yard short of a crucial first down and quarterback Andy Dalton misfired on third-and-1, giving Bucs quarterback Tom Brady a chance to lead his team to an improbable 17-16 come-from-behind win.
Instead of New Orleans moving a half-game behind division-leading Tampa Bay in the NFC South, the Saints find themselves in last place with a 4-9 record.
“This (expletive) hurts,” Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We should’ve beat this team this time. We should’ve beat Carolina. We should’ve beat a lot of other teams. We didn’t. Right now, these are the facts of what we’re facing. Beyond an uphill battle.”
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According to NextGen Stats, New Orleans had a 99.3% probability of winning the game when Ingram ran out of bounds at the Bucs 44-yard-line with 5:34 left. After Dalton’s incompletion, Saints coach Dennis Allen decided to punt the ball to Tampa Bay and force Brady to score twice.
Which he did, capping it with a TD pass to rookie Rachaad White with three seconds left.
As a result, the Bucs lead the NFL’s worst division with a 6-6 record, while the 5-8 Atlanta Falcons and 4-8 Carolina Panthers give chase. The Saints, at 4-9, have lost four of their last five games.
“We gave ourselves every opportunity, we just didn’t get it done,” Allen said. “It sucks, it stings, it hurts.”
Story Credit: usatoday.com