Just like old times, Saints lose

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2000

NEW ORLEANS — The new-look Saints looked an awful lot like the old-hat ‘Aints in a 14-10 home loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday.

Although the New Orleans defense held the Lions to only two field goals, a Detroit touchdown on a 95-yard punt return by Desmond Howard was the difference in the season opener.

Despite an anemic passing game that earned only 146 yards, the Saints had an opportunity to win the game late in the fourth quarter after Detroit fumbled on a field goal attempt from the New Orleans 11 yard line.

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The Saints took over on downs on their own 21 with 3:01 left in the game. After a short pass to wide out Keith Poole, quarterback Jeff Blake connected twice with wide receiver Joe Horn for 13 and 19 yard gains, respectively.

A series of scrambles and short passes got the Saints to the Lions 21 with 48 seconds left in the game, but a fourth-and-two pass intended for running back Ricky Williams was batted down by Detroit linebacker Scott Boyd, ending the Saints’ drive and their hopes for a come-from-behind victory.

New Orleans took an early lead when strong safety Sammy Knight snagged an overthrown Stoney Case pass intended for tight end David Sloan, and returned it 37 yards for a first quarter score.

The Lions answered with two short field goals in the second quarter. Howard’s punt return and running back James Stewart’s two point conversion run put the Lions up for good with two minutes left in the third quarter .

Saints kicker Doug Brien made a 48-yard field goal early in the fourth, and later had a 52-yard attempt blocked by Lions defensive tackle James Jones.

The Saints defense nearly added 2 points to the board when rookie defensive end Darren Howard and veteran defensive tackle La’Roi Glover converged on Case in his own end zone, sacking him for an apparent safety. The officials ruled, however, that the ball was on the 1-yard-line when Case hit the ground, and the Lions were able to punt the ball safely away.

Both teams offensive units played sloppy football, as the teams combined for 20 penalties and five turnovers.

&uot;Nothing was going right,&uot; Saints head coach Jim Haslett said after the game. &uot;Interceptions, fumbles, penalties, dropped passes — You don’t win in this league with that stuff.&uot;

Two penalties in particular hurt the Saints running game, as Williams runs of 37 and 21 yards were called back for holding penalties. Williams, who suffered from several injuries in his rookie season last year, finished the day with 84 yards on 20 carries. He fumbled twice.

Blake was 18-34-1 for 169 yards and no touchdowns. Horn lead the Saints in receiving, catching five balls for 58 yards.

The Saints play at San Diego at 3:15 p.m. Sunday.