If you’re thinking the title of this post refers to 2 plays that might have changed the outcome of a game or games, think again.  Saints were never 1 play or 2 plays away from winning in either game this season.  No, the 2 plays the title refers to are the 2 plays the Saints have run so far this season with a lead on the scoreboard.  All stats from pfref.com.

The Saints have run a total of 2 plays with the lead this year, but neither play was an offensive play, they were both kickoffs and both from week 1.  The Saints took a 3-0 lead over the Vikings, and then kicked off.  After that, they took a 6-3 lead, and then kicked off.  That’s it.  Those are the 2 plays.  The Saints have run 149 plays all together, regardless of the scoreboard margin.  147 of them, if we do the math, were run when the score was either tied or when the Saints were trailing.  Of these 149 plays, there were 84 passes (including 2 sacks), 38 rushes, 6 punts, 9 kickoffs, 2 onside kicks, 7 field goals, 3 extra points, and a crawfish in a fig tree.

To put this into context, in 2009, by the time the books were closed on the 2nd game of the year the Saints had run 132 plays with the lead in those games.  In case you’re wondering, no, the Saints do not have the fewest plays run with a lead in 2017, that honor goes to San Francisco, who only has 1 play run with a lead so far.  Miami only has 7 plays run with the lead, but Miami has only played 1 game.  (Oh, and they won that game.)

It just feels different this year.  In those other years there were plays here, plays there, that you could write off as fluke plays that cost the team the game.  We all remember all too well the blocked field goals and PAT’s from last year that cost the Saints up to 3 games, maybe less, but maybe 3 games.  And there were gray area calls by the officials we might reasonably question that maybe cost a win here or there.  A loose ball bounces to the other team instead of to one of your guys.  Maybe you get an inopportune penalty or something.  That kind of thing, close games where you lose, but you can point to a play here, a player there, and wonder what might have been *if* that play had gone the other way for you.  Not this year.

Can the Saints turn things around?  It’s certainly possible.  On paper, (if we could just get a paper field installed in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome…) the Saints have some good players.  Brees could get hot and the defense could actually start figuring out some of their assignments, maybe even stop running into each other, anything is possible.  But the Saints need to get it into gear.  History shows Tom Benson makes changes when he starts seeing empty seats in the stadium.  In the NFL you have 2 things you can sell to your fans: wins, and the hope for wins.  Right now the Saints have neither to offer.

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