Turnovers, penalties among problems for Saints

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On several occasions during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton has openly talked about the things that can get a team beat — especially on the road.

Penalties. Turnovers. Lack of execution. Missed scoring opportunities.

Individually or added up, it usually ends in an uneven performance, and more often than not, a loss.

Such was the case Sunday for the Saints in a 26-20 setback at the hands of the New York Jets.

The Saints committed nine penalties — seven on offense — and had two first-half giveaways that led to 10 Jets points, although that was just part of the problem on a cool afternoon in MetLife Stadium.

The Saints also had to burn all three of their first-half timeouts in the first quarter, two of Drew Brees’ passes were tipped by his receivers before being intercepted and he was sacked twice.

Kicker Garrett Hartley hooked a 43-yard field goal wide left after the opening possession of the game, and the defense had no answer for Jets running back Chris Ivory, a former teammate who rushed for 139 yards on 18 carries.

“The turnovers definitely hurt and not converting third downs, those things are hard to overcome,” Saints All-Pro guard Jahri Evans said, “especially when you’re dealing with crowd noise on the road.

“Give the Jets some credit, but nine penalties are way too much — especially when it keeps you from converting and making first downs,” he added. “We have to correct that, and we’ll be better.”

The problems started early for the Saints, who had a turnover and three pre-snap penalties — not to mention the timeouts they frittered away — in the first quarter alone.

“Offensively, we we were trying to get something going and (penalties) put us in some tough second- and third-down situations — especially there at the end,” said Brees. “So, I look to that.

“I look to the start of the game: we had to use a timeout early, we had the delay of game, the lack of tempo and rhythm.”

But the offensive problems extended into the latter part of the game as well.

One of the examples of not converting came midway through the fourth quarter when the Saints had a third-and-1 at the Jets’ 36 just three plays after guard Ben Grubbs was called for a hands-to-the-face penalty.

Fullback Jed Collins dropped a pass from Brees that would have produced a first down, and on fourth down, Payton called an end around for rookie tight end Josh Hill, who was blown up for a 8-yard loss by Jets defensive end Quinton Coples.

“It was a short-yardage call that we felt pretty comfortable with,” Payton explained. “They made a good play on it. They stayed at home. It was something we saw on tape that we really liked.”

“That’s something we talked about for the last three days, wanting to call that and run it in a critical situation,” Brees concurred. “We felt like that was just the right time to do it. It’s unfortunate it didn’t work … it’s kind of one of those plays that’s all or nothing.”

The Saints actually may have converted on third-and-1 on a run by Collins, but the Jets called timeout because they had only 10 defenders on the field.

“We still have to get a foot on the next play, you know what I mean,” said tackle Zach Strief. “Again, we didn’t make enough plays because we had an opportunity on the next play to get it. Obviously, they had someone stay home and play sound defense on an end around.

“One of the things coach Payton is good at is identifying, going into the week, the things you need to do to win that game,” he added. “You go down the list of things he harped on all week, and we did the opposite of every one of them. We did none of them, so it got us beat.”