When Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins hooked his arm around that of Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs on an overthrown, third-down pass, yellow flags flew. A defensive pass interference call extended a late Las Vegas drive that ultimately extinguished New Orleans’ comeback hopes on Monday night.
The foul not only fit the theme of New Orleans’ first loss of the season, but continued an unflattering pattern of penalties spanning both of the Saints’ games this season.
One week after overcoming 119 penalty yards — including 101 yards for defensive pass interference — to defeat Tampa Bay, the Saints left Las Vegas as 34-24 losers in no small part because of 129 penalty yards on 10 infractions.
“Obviously, we’re not going to win when we have that many penalties,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We’ve got to get that cleaned up. I thought we played poorly in the secondary, honestly.”
But it wasn’t just the secondary, as Payton noted. The Saints’ defensive line committed a couple of personal fouls: Trey Hendrickson’s hand to the face of Raiders QB Derek Carr and Cameron Jordan’s horse collar tackle of running back Josh Jacobs.
“Those are self-inflicted injuries that led to (Raiders) scores,” Jordan said before summarizing likely remedies to New Orleans’ early season penalty plague.
“It’s film study. It’s discipline. It’s relying on your technique work,” Jordan said. “It’s something we have to address now and grow from today.”
And the offense had its share of holding calls on linemen and even an illegal block downfield on receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
“Penalties killed us,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara said. “We shot ourselves.”
Quarterback Drew Brees cited one second-half drive in which the Saints advanced inside the Las Vegas 40, only to be pushed back by two holding calls and Sanders’ personal foul in the span of four plays. What initially looked like a scoring opportunity quickly turned into a punting situation.
“We had a lot of metal errors,” Brees said. “We know what wins football games and we know what makes it very very difficult to win football games, and obviously we made way too many mistakes out there.”
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