The New Orleans Saints have lost two games in a row by two points in the final moments.
Two weeks ago, the Atlanta Falcons kicked a winning field goal as time expired.
Last week at Tennessee, the Saints had a chance to tie but failed on a two-point conversion with 1:16 left, then couldn’t recover an onside kick.
At 5-4, they’re one game behind NFC South-leading Tampa Bay and anxious to get back on a winning track when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
“It’s gut wrenching,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “There’s so much that goes into the week. It’s always difficult when you lose and then when you lose in (this) fashion, that’s even more difficult to accept.
“You have to regroup and get your players back and kind of get the focus and the energy shifted so one doesn’t become two and two doesn’t become three.”
This is just the fourth time in the last five seasons that New Orleans has lost consecutive games. It hasn’t lost three straight in that time.
The Saints played last week without injured running back Alvin Kamara, their most productive offensive player. Kamara (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, but his status for Sunday is uncertain.
Trevor Siemian has had two straight interception-free games as a starter since replacing Jameis Winston, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in New Orleans’ last victory three weeks ago.
He brought his team back from an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Falcons to briefly take a lead with a minute left. He then brought the team back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to the brink of tying the Titans.
“We’ve got to play better early,” Siemian said.
The Eagles (4-6) are coming off perhaps their best game of the season, a 30-13 victory at Denver last Sunday, but they have yet to win at home. They have lost their last five home games, last winning against the Saints 24-21 in Week 14 last season.
In that game, Philadelphia ended New Orleans’ NFL-record of 55 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. In his first NFL start, Jalen Hurts rushed for 106 yards and Miles Sanders rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles ended the Saints’ nine-game winning streak.
Sanders has missed the last three games because of an ankle injury, but he participated in the team’s walk-through Wednesday and might be available Sunday.
“If Miles is healthy and ready to go, he’s our starter,” first-year head coach Nick Sirianni said. “We want to make sure that he’s healthy and ready to go. That’s going to be an ongoing thing throughout the week.”
Philadelphia has placed a greater emphasis on the running game in recent weeks, even in Sanders’ absence.
Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, and Kenny Gainwell have filled in and the Eagles have averaged 208.7 rushing yards in the last three games. Hurts leads the team with 547 rushing yards for the season.
“When you have these guys who have been running the ball well, that’s a good problem to have,” Sirianni said. “It speaks to the depth that we have here in the running back room.
“It’s a 17-game season. You’re going to have some bumps and bruises throughout the way. It’s important that the guys that step in for the starters are ready to go.”
Over the past three weeks the Eagles are averaging 32.7 points per game.
–Field Level Media