Medical personnel look over New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr...

Medical personnel look over New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) after being tackled during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in New Orleans. Credit: AP/Butch Dill

NEW ORLEANS — The boos seemed to rain down on Derek Carr until Lions defensive tackle Bruce Irvin crashed down hard on top of the the Saints quarterback with a little more than 10 minutes to go in New Orleans' 33-28 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

For the third time in his 10th NFL season and first with the Saints, Carr had to leave a game with upper-body injuries, concussion symptoms or both.

“I can’t imagine the mental battles that he’s going through,” said Saints left guard James Hurst, referring both the fans' treatment of Carr and the toll the game has taken on the 32-year-old QB's body this season. "We know what type of person he is. And as a teammate, we love him and we’re going to fight for him.

“Hopefully, he’s back as soon as he can be,” Hurst added.

The Saints said Carr injured his back and shoulder — it appeared to be his right (throwing) shoulder. He also was placed in the concussion protocol.

In Week 3, Carr left a loss at Green Bay with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. It's unclear how well that initial injury has healed, but Carr has come back from each of his previous injuries this season without missing a game. Both times, the Saints (5-7) lost the next game he started.

When Carr first took the field in New Orleans on Sunday, the environment in the Superdome reflected that of a fanbase that was fed up — if it even showed up.

Detroit Lions linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) tackles New Orleans Saints...

Detroit Lions linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) tackles New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) causing an injury during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in New Orleans. Credit: AP/Butch Dill

Technically, season tickets at the Superdome are sold out. Based on the pervasive “Honolulu blue” in the stands — and the reverberating chants of, “Let's Go Lions!” — it seemed that a number of locals had unloaded their tickets on the secondary market to Detroit fans.

“The way we’re sitting, like, we look over there, and it was pretty blue,” Hurst said of the lower stands behind the Lions' bench. “They’re having a good season. So, that happens.”

The sound of disgruntled fans was “miserable, honestly,” Hurst added. “But, you know, in a sense, we put ourselves in it. We are playing the game.”

Saints coach Dennis Allen noticed the negativity.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) is helped off...

New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) is helped off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in New Orleans. Credit: AP/Gerald Herbert

“How can you not?" Allen said. "It's our job to change it. I was proud of the way our guys fought back, got back into the game and gave ourselves a real opportunity.”

The Saints entered Week 13 with the fourth-worst red-zone offense in the NFL. Fans wasted no time letting Carr know they were fed up with his season-long struggle to close out drives with touchdowns. They booed him during pregame introductions, when he first took the field — and when he trotted off the field after his first pass was intercepted.

For much of the game, each time reserve QB Taysom Hill went in for his usual selection of runs or run-pass option plays, fans cheered, then booed when Hill went to the sideline and Carr came back in.

The Saints fell behind 21-0 in the first seven minutes. But New Orleans wound up perfect in the red zone, scoring touchdowns all four times it got inside the Detroit 20-yard line. Carr led three of those scoring drives and Jameis Winston finished the last one, which was aided by a personal foul penalty on the hit that knocked Carr out of the game.

In the end, it was another Saints loss — their fifth this season by eight or fewer points.

Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu grew up in New Orleans during the Drew Brees era — heady times when the team symbolized the community's will to not just survive, but thrive, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation. He was in high school when the Saints started the 2009 season 13-0 en route to the franchise's lone Super Bowl triumph, which was celebrated with a parade as wild and well-attended as any during Mardi Gras.

“Growing up in this city, it’s no secret that we’re all invested,” Mathieu said when asked about fans voicing their dissatisfaction in the dome. "They have a right to apply pressure, so to speak. But at the end of the day, man, we’re one family, one community and it’s going to take all of us.”

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