NEW ORLEANS (AP)When Derek Carr’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone, the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrated and Carr and Co. left the Superdome field amid boos from spectators who had watched the New Orleans Saints stall out in virtually the same fashion in Houston last Sunday.
“We will join them in that because we’re the ones out there doing it,” Carr said when asked about his message to frustrated fans. “We want to give them a great product. We want to give them wins. They deserve wins. They deserve to see a great product. Hopefully we get our stuff together and get it together quick and start to get on a run so they can enjoy some more moments.”
New Orleans has lost four of five and the past two setbacks have come with the Saints threatening – but failing – to score a tying touchdown in the final minute. In Week 6, they stalled at the Houston 24 with four consecutive incomplete passes. On Thursday night, it happened 18 yards closer to the goal line.
Carr guided New Orleans from its 25 to the Jaguars 6 as the clock ticked under a minute but failed to connect with receivers on four plays in a row in 31-24 loss.
“We’re a lot closer but we’re still not there yet and we’re going to keep grinding until we get there,” coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ll figure out how we’ll get a little better and be more consistent. That’s the challenge. We’ve got to become a more consistent football team.”
The Saints have been consistently bad in the red zone all season, ranking 28th in the NFL with touchdowns in only 38.6% of their possessions inside the 20 entering Thursday night. They improved only slightly with two touchdowns in five opportunities, but the issues hit them hard on that final sequence.
On first down, Carr threw well out of bounds with no one open.
Feeling heavy pressure on second down, he threw over the head of open receiver Taysom Hill in the end zone.
On third down, tight end Foster Moreau dropped a pass in the corner of the end zone with no one around him.
“It’s tough,” said Moreau, who grew up in New Orleans. “In front of every man, woman and child I’ve ever known. It’s a dark place to be. It’s the National Football League. It doesn’t come down to one play, but it comes down to one play.”
On fourth down, Jaguars cornerback Montaric Brown knocked down a fade for Chris Olave, providing a fitting end to a frustrating night when Carr was demonstrably angry more than once.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to fix that,” Carr said. “It sucks right now. We’re finding everything that sucks right now. … There’s some things in football that are completely controllable that I think we could do better.”
The boos began in the first quarter and picked up considerably as the game progressed, reaching a crescendo when linebacker Foyesade Oluokon returned Carr’s tipped pass 24 yards for a touchdown to give the Jaguars a 24-9 lead.
Suddenly, though, the Saints responded with two touchdowns. Carr completed seven straight passes before Taysom Hill ran it in on fourth-and goal from the 1 to cut the deficit to 24-16 early in the fourth quarter. After a fourth-down stop near midfield, Carr hit Michael Thomas for a 17-yard score before finding Alvin Kamara for a tying 2-point conversion with 6:38 left.
But the defense, which had held Jacksonville scoreless in the second half, gave up a 44-yard touchdown reception on a shallow cross by Christian Kirk at the 3:08 mark.
“We’ve just got to find a way to close out the game,” said Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was covering Kirk on the decisive score. “There were a lot of opportunities we kind of left out there.”
Most of them were on offense. The Saints settled for a 23-yard field goal after having first-and-goal at the 6, a 35-yard field goal after having first down at the Jacksonville 22 and a 42-yard field goal after having a first down at the Jaguars 23.
“Somehow, some way, we’ve got to get those guys on the same page,” Allen said about his players. “There’s a lot that goes into that.”
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