The New Orleans Saints suffered a disappointing 24-15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season. The defeat not only cost them the game but also their division lead. It left them in second place in the NFC South. The Saints' struggles were evident throughout the game, with several key personnel failing to deliver when it mattered most. Let's delve into the details of the game and identify the individuals most responsible for the Saints' defeat.

Week 12 Loss

Enduring the Saints' collapse on Sunday was a challenging experience for New Orleans faithful. This sentiment has been a recurring theme on many Sundays throughout the season, particularly poignant during an emotionally charged rivalry game against a division opponent. The added disappointment stems from the fact that the Falcons emerged from this match atop the NFC South standings. Witnessing the Saints stumble in Week 12's defeat to the Falcons was disheartening, and the aftermath suggests they may have suffered setbacks, with key positions grappling with injuries after the bye week. Yes, not everything went awry in Atlanta. However, positive moments were scarce and distant amid the overall disappointment.

Here we will look at the four New Orleans Saints who are most to blame for their Week 12 loss vs. the Atlanta Falcons.

Derek Carr

Derek Carr's performance has been a major impediment to the Saints' offensive success. This is particularly due to his struggles in protecting the football and executing crucial plays in the red zone. The interception he threw in this game, resulting in a touchdown for the Falcons, was a pivotal moment. It showcased Carr's vulnerability, especially in scoring positions. His inconsistency is evident despite recording 304 passing yards.

He just continues to falter in key moments, such as the fortunate fumble recovery by a teammate. While Carr's passing yardage may seem respectable on paper, his overall impact is diminished by a lack of touchdowns. Keep in mind that he has only 10 for the season. Moreover, his accuracy issues were evident in this game. One can argue that it even led to injuries for receivers Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed as they contorted their bodies attempting catches.

Pass Rush

The Sunday performance of Dennis Allen's defense was nothing short of embarrassing. The Saints' pass rush fell short in applying effective pressure on Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder. They allowed him to go largely unharmed and permitted the Falcons to accumulate 228 rushing yards. They failed to disrupt Ridder, hardly laying a hand on him throughout the game. With Cameron Jordan showing signs of decline and Carl Granderson unable to shoulder the burden alone, even Jason Pierre-Paul's contributions off the edge were minimal. It's imperative for the Saints to reassess the criteria and athletic profiles they prioritize for this position group.

Ground Defense

The inability to contain the Falcons' ground game was a major contributor to the Saints' defeat. They were dominated at the line of scrimmage, allowing Atlanta to average 5.6 yards per carry and convert first downs on 15 rushing plays. Each of the three Falcons running backs had substantial contributions. Bijan Robinson had 91 yards, Tyler Allgeier had 64 yards, and Cordarrelle Patterson added 43 yards.

Sure, the Falcons boast a formidable run game. However, the Saints' run defense can't use that as an excuse for their lackluster performance. Every Falcons runner had a successful outing, with Robinson leading the way. The Saints' defensive core, particularly in the middle, needs a thorough reevaluation. They need to prioritize speed across the defensive line in the offseason.

Receiver Depth

Moreover, the Saints' offensive capabilities were further compromised by the absence of effective receiving options. The inability of key players to step up in crucial moments played a significant role in the Saints' downfall, exacerbated by the loss of Chris Olave.

Chris Olave is out for the Saints with a concussion

In the last two games, injuries have taken a toll on the Saints, with players like Michael Thomas and Marshon Lattimore on the injury reserve. Olave, who is a key receiver, left this game with a concussion. That will likely sideline him for their next contest. Injuries also affected Rashid Shaheed, Cameron Jordan, and Jamaal Williams, who didn't return to the game. While Erik McCoy and Ryan Ramczyk were injured, they managed to return to the game. It will be very interesting to see how Allen approaches this concern in the coming weeks.

Looking Ahead

In conclusion, the New Orleans Saints' disappointing loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season was a result of various shortcomings on both sides of the ball. From crucial turnovers to defensive lapses and the impact of injuries on offensive production, the Saints faced numerous challenges that ultimately led to their defeat. As they reflect on this defeat and look ahead to future matchups, the Saints must address these issues and hold their key personnel accountable to ensure a more successful outcome in the remainder of the season.