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Saints’ season ends in disappointment

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 20:01

ELAINE THOMPSON/Associated Press

ELAINE THOMPSON/Associated Press

Drew Brees stretches while anticipating the upcoming game against Seattle on Jan. 11, 2014, after an unfortunate loss in regular season week 13.

TED S. WARREN/Associated Press

TED S. WARREN/Associated Press

Saints kicker Shayne Graham is disappointed after missing his 48 yard field goal late in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A look at some of the highlights and lowlights of the New Orleans Saints’ season:

Best Game: A 49-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the Superdome on Nov. 10. Drew Brees completed 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns, and the Saints had an NFL-record 40 first downs and franchise-record 625 total yards.

Worst Game: A 34-7 loss in Seattle on Dec. 2. New Orleans’ seven points tied its lowest scoring output since Sean Payton, who designed the offense, took over as coach in 2006. The Saints’ 188 total yards were their fewest of the Payton era.

Best Play: Brees’ clutch 31-yard pass over the middle to Marques Colston during Week 2 in Tampa Bay. The play set up a last-second field goal in a 16-14 comeback victory.

Worst Play: Brees’ underthrown pass intended for tight end Jimmy Graham, who was triple-covered in the end zone. The pass was intercepted to stall a drive on which the Saints could have used points in a 27-16 loss to St. Louis.

Biggest Surprise: The Saints’ defense, which made a major improvement. In 2012, the Saints gave up an NFL-record 7,042 yards. In 2013 under first-year coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints ranked fourth in total defense, No. 2 in pass defense.

Biggest Disappointment: The Saints’ road record. New Orleans was 8-0 in the Superdome, but five road losses cost the Saints a chance to finish as the No. 2 seed, which would have guaranteed them a home game in the divisional round of the playoffs instead of a visit to Seattle.

What’s Next: The Saints have to find the salary cap space to re-sign Graham, who enters free agency after leading the team with 1,215 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns and will be seeking one of the richest tight end contracts in the NFL. The club also must make decisions about how much to offer starting right tackle Zach Strief and starting safety Malcolm Jenkins, who are also free agents.

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