METAIRIE, La. -- With so much talk focused on the New Orleans Saints' defense this week (and with more still to come) the offense practically got a free pass for its role in last Sunday's 47-14 debacle at the Washington Redskins.
But you can't have the most lopsided loss in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era without both sides of the ball playing their part.
The Saints started strong with 14 points in their first three possessions, including a 70-yard run by Mark Ingram and a 60-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Brandin Cooks. But they never scored again.
Brees and offensive tackle Zach Strief both pointed to "missed opportunities" as the biggest culprit -- none bigger than being stuffed on both third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 when they reached the Redskins' 31-yard line to start the second half. The Saints trailed 27-14 at the time.
"Those are hard to watch," Strief said. "To be perfectly honest with you, they can't be better looks for the plays that are called. … We came out and moved the ball well, and then you have that happen. That's a situation that we have been pretty effective at. It's a huge miss."
On the second play, left tackle Terron Armstead appeared to miss a block as Spiller got swallowed up by multiple defenders from his left.
Those weren't the only missed opportunities. Cooks dropped a wide-open pass on third down in the first half. A ball bounced off receiver Marques Colston's hands on a third-down play early in the fourth quarter that turned into an interception return for a touchdown. Brees and receiver Willie Snead miscommunicated on another incompletion. Brees said he missed someone on another third-down play as New Orleans went 4-of-11 overall on third downs.
"That's what keeps drives alive, and that's what will give us opportunities to gain points and keep our defense off the field, keep them somewhat rested and play complementary football," Brees said after the game. "We didn't do that well today. It's just not our standard."
It was especially disappointing for an offense that had been on its best roll of the season over the past month.
"I wouldn't say that I looked at that tape and said, 'Man, we got beat all over the field.' We just didn't make plays that were there. They were very much there to make," Strief said. "We had some opportunities there and we just squandered them."