Delvin Breaux and Sean Payton were confused by the defensive holding penalty that allowed the Giants to get back into the game when the Saints had New York on the ropes.
New Orleans had a 42-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. With the Giants facing a third-and-6, Saints defensive end Bobby Richardson came free and crushed Eli Manning, forcing a fumble that Saints tackle Tyeler Davison recovered, a potential dagger for a Saints team that had plenty of momentum.
Then New Orleans saw the flag. Breaux, who had been in a battle with Odell Beckham Jr. throughout the game, was flagged for defensive holding, continuing the drive.
According to Breaux, there was little different on that snap from any of the others he’d taken against Beckham.
“We’d been playing physical the whole game, and they just decided to throw one,” Breaux said. “It happened to be third-and-5 when we got a turnover. Can’t do anything about it.”
Payton was not pleased.
“Really, honestly, up 14, we get a sack-fumble and there’s some call that … I’m not going to say it, but I don’t have to say it,” Payton said. “That’s too big of a down, and we can’t have something like that, that doesn’t happen, being called. We can’t. We’re up 14, we get the turnover, there’s a flag on the field for holding. … I was disappointed in how that happened, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Manning took advantage of the penalty by tossing a touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris that got the Giants back on track.
“I made my peace on the field,” Payton said. “You can’t miss that. It’s one thing to miss something that should be called, but you can’t miss that on a play like that. During the game, we talked about it, and we’ll leave it at that.”
Free safety Jairus Byrd made two of the defense’s biggest plays on a frustrating Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
With the Saints desperate for a big play on the defensive side of the ball in the middle of the third quarter, Byrd attacked Giants tight end Will Tye, who was already tied up by two other Saints, and punched the ball out of his hands. Byrd then pounced on the fumble for the first turnover he’s forced since ripping out a Julio Jones fumble in the 2014 season-opener. New Orleans wasn’t able to capitalize on the turnover.
Then Byrd came up big on New York’s final drive. On second down, Manning hit Shane Vereen over the middle, with only Byrd between the running back and a potential big gain. A diving tackle by Byrd forced third down and helped set up the punt that led to Kai Forbath’s game-winner.
“It was just effort,” Byrd said. “I saw him duck it down to Vereen, and fortunately I was able to make a play.”
But Byrd, who finished with three tackles, is more concerned with the plays he didn’t make in a 350-yard, six-touchdown performance for Manning.
“Stuff like this, I focus on what can we do to get better,” Byrd said. “There’s plays out there that I’ve got to make sure I correct myself personally. And as a defense, we’re going to get better, but I’m going to take a win any day.”
Saints running back Khiry Robinson was carted off the field after a second-quarter carry near the goal line.
Trainers immobilized Robinson’s right leg and took him off the field on a cart after his teammates knelt down and prayed for him with the Superdome crowd chanting “Khiry.”
The rest of the injuries hit the defense. Rookie cornerback Damian Swann, who had missed the last two games because of a concussion suffered against Philadelphia, is now going through the concussion protocol again after a fourth-quarter hit. And linebacker Ramon Humber left early with a hamstring injury and did not return. Safety Kenny Vaccaro missed a play after losing a tooth.
Linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, who left with an ankle injury late in the third quarter, does not have a serious injury, a source told The Advocate.