PHOENIX – Arizona was having trouble scoring Thursday night, until New Orleans helped.
The Saints’ Andy Dalton was intercepted three times, with two returned for touchdowns just before halftime. The first one came in Arizona’s end zone, denying New Orleans points it could have used in a 42-34 loss.
The Saints (2-5) entered the game leading the NFL in turnovers (13) and kept up the pace.
The first of Dalton’s pick-six throws glanced off the hands and the shoulder of Marquez Calloway before the Cardinals’ Marco Wilson snagged it and scampered 38 yards, putting Arizona (3-4) ahead to stay, 20-14, 1:50 before halftime.
Just over a minute later, it happened again, except this time, Dalton was culpable. He threw across the middle and apparently didn’t see Cardinals’ safety Isaiah Simmons, who raced 56 yards to the end zone and a 28-14 lead with 46 seconds to go in the half.
New Orleans drove to a 25-yard Will Lutz field goal on its first series after halftime and got within 28-17, but could not get closer until the final minute. Then the Saints settled for a 45-yard field goal and could not convert the onside kick with 43 seconds left.
New Orleans outgained Arizona 494-326 but the interceptions were the obvious difference.
“Frustrated, but not despondent,” said first-year Saints coach Dennis Allen. “Everything we want to accomplish is still out there in front of us, and I’m fully confident this team will put together a string of wins and turn things around.”
The Saints played without four offensive starters, including receivers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry, and chose not to activate quarterback Jameis Winston, who was designated as the emergency quarterback. Winston could return to action when the Saints host Las Vegas Oct. 30.