Get updates delivered to you daily. Free and customizable.
The Associated Press
Derek Carr plays through a shoulder injury, but struggles continue for the Saints’ offense
By GUERRY SMITH,
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints quarterback Derek Carr was visibly upset with himself after short-hopping a long sideline throw to an open Chris Olave early in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The rest of the game was just as frustrating for Carr and the sputtering New Orleans offense.
Playing through a sprained shoulder that kept him out of practice earlier in the week, Carr threw for only 127 yards and failed to produce a touchdown in a 26-9 loss.
A week after blowing a 17-0 fourth quarter lead to Green Bay when Carr was forced out in the third quarter, the Saints missed an early opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Instead, the Bucs moved to the top of the division.
“That’s no excuse for us playing the way we did today,” Carr said. “Whatever it is that I have to do, I’ll do it. I just don’t want the shoulder to be an excuse for the way that we executed.”
Very little went right for New Orleans after Taysom Hill slipped on a third-down catch with open field in front of him, forcing the Saints to settle for a 37-yard field goal on their opening drive.
The next three possessions ended in punts, and Bucs safety Antoine Winfield forced a fumble from fullback Adam Prentice at the New Orleans 6-yard line in the final minute of the first half, leading to an easy Tampa Bay touchdown and a 14-3 deficit.
Carr opened the second half with his misfire to Olave. On the next play, he threw a pass that traveled about 60 yards in the air for Olave, but Winfield broke it up in the end zone with a last-second stab.
“I think I was just angry and launched one,” Carr said. “Two guys on Chris but he ran by them and we almost had a play.”
A big play never came despite the return of running back Alvin Kamara from a three-game suspension.
Carr completed 23 passes, but his average per attempt (3.4) was his worst since 2016 and the second lowest in his 10-year career. Kamara rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries and had 13 catches — tied for the second most in his career — but for a measly 33 yards.
The Saints finished with 197 yards. Their longest play was a 20-yard catch by Michael Thomas.
“It’s very frustrating,” Thomas said. “We just have to find ways to get better. Guys have to make more plays. We’re better than that. Whatever it might be that’s not allowing us to get over that hump, there has to be a sense of urgency. There has to be a higher level of detail. There has to be a higher level of accountability.”
The issue was not new. On a day when the Saints allowed more than 20 points for the first time in 12 games, they scored 21 or fewer points for the 10th consecutive time dating to last November.
The offense has four touchdowns in four games this season.
“It’s a concern,” coach Dennis Allen said. “As a staff we’ve got to do a better job of figuring out what we’re going to be able to do, what we can do well, and we’ve got to be able to go out and execute those things because right now we’re not scoring enough points and we know that.”
Fittingly, Carr’s day ended when he fumbled on a fourth-down sack — his 13th of the year and the 15th the Saints have allowed.
“I have to try and find a way to get the ball out, make it easier on them (the offensive line), make a better call,” Carr said. “I’ll do whatever I can do to take the pressure off of them.”