NFL: Sean Payton Costs Saints a Victory Against Green Bay Packers

Patrick Generose@PatrickGenCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 08: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints watches as his team takes on the Green Bay Packers during the NFL opening season game at Lambeau Field on September 8, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Saints 42-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As usual, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense played well enough to beat the Green Bay Packers Thursday night.

But they were once again thwarted by an all too familiar foe, their own defense. 

After giving up 272 yards in the first half, the defense actually clamped down and only allowed 123 the rest of the game.

The guiltier party, however, was one with which the Saints never figured to contend.  Sean Payton made three terrible calls in the second half that left critical points and most likely, the win, out of reach.

With a little over nine minutes left in the third quarter, Payton called a roll-out pass on third-and-two which resulted in a Brees sack.  The Saints would settle for a field goal.

Later in the quarter on fourth-and-one, Payton once again called for a pass that fell incomplete at Pierre Thomas' feet.  A field goal would have pulled the Saints within five points of the Packers.

Finally, the Saints had a chance at the end of the game to score from a yard out.  An ensuing two-point conversion could have sent the game into overtime.

The Saints struck out on Payton's third and final pitch.  About 70,000 people at Lambeau Field, 11 Packers defenders and millions more watching at home knew exactly where the ball was going. 

Mark Ingram was stuffed for no gain at the goal line on the last play, securing a win for the Pack. 

It's hard to say if the outcome would have been any different because at no point did the Saints play like the better team.

But it's painfully obvious that the Saints head coach didn't do his team any favors with his irresponsible play-calling toward the end of the game. 

The defense was hanging in, Darren Sproles was earning a spot in the hearts of Saints fans, and Brees, once again, was doing what no other Saints player ever could: giving his team a chance to win when there really was none.

It was all derailed by Payton's ineptitude to do what was simple.  Mike McCarthy didn't have to outcoach him, Payton already did it to himself. 

Payton and the Saints get an extended week off to find their still-absent running game before hosting the Chicago Bears on September 18.