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Saints Won’t Take Buccaneers for Granted After Shocking Loss to Falcons

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Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert/New Orleans Saints

The Saints suffered their most disappointing loss of the season last Sunday to the rival Falcons. The Saints were riding a six-game winning streak and coming off a bye week with their healthiest roster yet.

Meanwhile, the Falcons entered having won only one game all season.

The stunning 26-9 home defeat left a bitter taste for the Saints (7-2) but they’re resolute it isn’t a reflection of who they are.

“You’re coming off a bye week. You’re well-rested. You’re getting all the weapons back… Nine points,” Quarterback Drew Brees said to CST. “Unacceptable. I’ll be the first one to tell you. Unacceptable. That’s not us.”

Brees was sacked six times and the Saints finished 3-for-12 on third-down efficiency and 0-for-3 on fourth down efficiency. The Saints were penalized 12 times for 90 yards and allowed the Falcons to rush for 142 yards.
The impetus for the Saints is to ensure there’s no carry-over effect when they travel to face another NFC South foe with an under .500 record (3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers) on Sunday.

“Taking a loss at home against a division team’s never a positive. Overall, It’s just the way it goes in this league sometimes. You show up to play. You do your preparation throughout the week. Your opponent does a few more things better than you. They make a few more plays when they need them in big-time situations. That’s what they did today,” Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. “For us moving forward we have to continue to work like we always work. We need to continue to prepare like we always prepare and we’ll be fine.”

The Saints have struggled this season with slow starts offensively. The Saints have only scored 25 points total in the first quarter, an aspect they’re well-aware must be improved.

“I’d say that’s one of the bigger things that we’re lacking right now offensively is that fast start. I can’t think of anytime this season where we’ve just come out like game busters and just score, score, score,” Brees said. “It’s been kind of a slow start and we kind of find ourselves and then maybe we break it open in the second half, but I’d say that that’s definitely an area where we can improve and we’ll need to improve if we want to get to where we want to go.”

Brees believes it’s imperative for the Saints to have a renewed attention to detail in order to get back in the win column vs. the Buccaneers.

“It’s all execution. Again, it’s not some grand, mind-boggling, some sort of revelation here. It’s simple execution. It’s just little things here and there that put yourself into a better position to convert a third down or make a big play and then from there create scoring opportunities. That’s really what it is. I can’t think of every one right now, but I can certainly think of a few where if we just make that play it’s a totally different game.”

Saints coach Sean Payton is strident his team will work out all of the kinks from the disappointing showing.

“A lot of corrections. Look, it’s a good group here and they understand that tomorrow will be tough to watch it. It’ll go down. But shame on us if we can’t get those corrections made. That won’t be a problem,” Payton said. “It’s much easier to come in and watch tape after you win, but that’s one of the things about this game that creates a little bit of toughness and grit.”

Payton took personal responsibility for the loss, noting that the Falcons were better than the Saints in all three facets of the game.

“Collectively we’ve got to do a better job and that starts with me. It’s kind of one of those, it’s not a lesson, but this league is too good week-to-week where you can go in and not be focused and ready,” Payton said. “This has always been a game played with emotion and I thought they outplayed us. They outplayed us, they outcoached us, and they deserve to win.”

The Saints remain atop the NFC South standings and are currently the No. 3 seed in the conference. Payton expects a more disciplined and determined Saints squad to take the field in Tampa.

“I think we have got good leadership here. I think these guys understand the process. They understand the importance of the workweek relative to how you win in this league. They’ve been in big moments. They’ve experienced postseason play and they recognize the importance of winning in the regular season,” Payton said. “You lean on your leadership and these guys will work on getting it corrected. Coaches as well. We’ve got to be better and then you focus on the next challenge.”