NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints are in freefall mode, as they dropped their fourth straight game of the season and went below .500 for the first time in a long time. The Bills did everything they needed to early to get out in front, and the New Orleans offense was stale most all game to where a 10-point lead felt like 21. Now, Sean Payton's team sits at 5-6 after the 31-6 Thanksgiving loss.
New Orleans started on offense after Buffalo won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Their first drive was a quick three-and-out. The Bills had little resistance on their opening offensive drive, as they marched down the field methodically to get a touchdown to start. The Bills went 65 yards in 10 plays, averaging 6.5 yards/play to get into the end zone with a Josh Allen to Dawson Knox seven-yard pass.
As Buffalo went up 7-0 with 7:09 left in the opening quarter, the Saints did their best to put together a drive, but it ended up stalling out after getting a couple of first downs. Good connections to Ty Montgomery and Tre'Quan Smith helped the Saints move the ball, but on a 3rd-and-2 from midfield, Trevor Siemian would get sacked by Mario Addison, who beat Terron Armstead.
The next Bills offensive possession saw the Saints defense settle in a little, as they would force a punt after Buffalo ran a few offensive plays and picked up a first down. New Orleans got a big sack on 3rd-and-13 from Carl Granderson. The play before saw P.J. Williams read a toss play and had Jalyn Holmes drop Matt Breida for a loss. Unfortunately, the New Orleans offense stalled out after crossing midfield, seeing a 4th-and-2 gamble backfield and lose yardage with Tony Jones Jr.
With 12:46 left until the half, Buffalo had ideal field position to work with and would put together a field goal drive after going 38 yards in seven plays. Kaden Elliss, who was playing at defensive end due to injuries, came up with a big sack on 3rd-and-3. Tyler Bass connected from 34 yards out and extended the Bills' lead to 10-0 at the 8:46 mark of the second quarter.
New Orleans ran off another short drive, even going for it on a 4th-and-1 from its own 30-yard-line. However, Siemian would have a misfire and missed connection with Tre'Quan Smith, and the drive ended with the Bills defense all in his face to force a quick throw that led to a Saints punt.
The Bills offense looked to capitalize, and they were moving the ball pretty well until they committed the first error of the game, as Allen was picked off by Bradley Roby near midfield. Another ugly offensive series pushed the Saints back into an eventual 3rd-and-18, and they gambled on 4th-and-8 on a fake punt that couldn't connect to give the Bills back the ball with 1:47 to play in the half, as they took over from their own 49-yard line.
Buffalo had a threatening drive before the half, as they looked to get at least a field goal. However, the Saints defense showed up in a huge way and got their second interception of the game after Cam Jordan forced Allen's arm to get hit and ended up getting secured by Kwon Alexander right before the half.
The Bills made the most of their opening third-quarter possession, going 75 yards in 11 plays to extend their lead to 17-0 after Josh Allen connected with Stefon Diggs for a 5-yard touchdown. Buffalo got big plays from Devin Singletary and Cole Beasley on the drive as well as a defensive pass interference on Marshon Lattimore. The drive took 6:12 off the clock.
The Saints ran another uninspiring offensive series, going three-and-out again, and at that point of the game, they were 0-of-7 on third down and had 68 yards of offense. Buffalo didn't take long to get it into the end zone again, going 53 yards in five plays that was capped off by a Dawson Knox 24-yard touchdown on 4th-and-2 on a play that Marshon Lattimore slipped. It was just too easy for the Bills offense, as they extended their lead to 24-0 with 4:19 left in the third.
The Saints proceeded to put together their best offensive drive of the game, and it led to them getting a touchdown out of it. Big plays to Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Marquez Callaway helped on the drive, as New Orleans went 75 yards in 10 plays in 4:25 that ended with a Nick Vannett 11-yard touchdown grab from Siemian to open the fourth quarter. They'd miss their 10th straight two-point attempt, as it was 24-6 Bills with 14:54 left in the game.
The ensuing Bills possession saw them run five plays and get a first down, but a key pass breakup on 3rd-and-1 by Marshon Lattimore put Buffalo into a 4th-and-1 situation where they lined up to go for it, but did not run a play as the Saints didn't jump and the play clock ran down. The Saints took over with 12:02 left in the game, and all they managed was a quick three-and-out after going backward on their first play.
The Bills kept their foot on the gas, as they pieced together a 4-play, 51-yard drive to get into the end zone again and make it 31-6 with 8:17 left to play in the game. The drive started with a big Allen to Stefon Diggs hookup for 28, and the Bills hit paydirt on a 3rd-and-10 with Allen hitting Matt Breida for a 23-yard catch-and-run.
New Orleans ran off a few plays on offense, but the drive ended prematurely after Trevor Siemian was picked off by Jordan Poyer to give the Bills back the ball with 7:07 left to play. Mitch Trubisky entered the game for Buffalo, and the Bills ran a quick three-and-out and milked some clock, eventually punting back to the Saints with 4:39 left in the game.
The Saints ran off some running plays to start their next drive, picked up a first down on 3rd-and-7 with Lil'Jordan Humphrey, and eventually got things down to the two-minute warning. They'd just be content on running out the clock.
The loss to the Bills doesn't completely hurt the Saints in the grand scheme of things because of the nonconference opponent, but they are in a must-win situation against the Cowboys next Thursday. This team needs answers fast, as their season is slipping away.