The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Brees, Saints expect to return from bye highly motivated after 'reality check' in New England
NEW ORLEANS - Rather than spend their week off dwelling on a dramatic Tom Brady pass that ruined their perfect record, the New Orleans Saints are taking a realistic approach to gauging their strong start to the 2013 season.
They were pleased to be 5-1, leading the NFC South and tied with Seattle atop the conference as their bye week arrived.
Locker room leaders, including quarterback Drew Brees and receiver Lance Moore, also were quick to point out the Saints could easily be 3-3, if not for last-minute successes early this season.
It took a fourth-down stand near their end zone to beat Atlanta in the season opener. The next week, New Orleans needed a last-minute drive — and a last-second field goal — to topple Tampa Bay in a game Brees said the Saints "maybe had no business winning."
"So sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don't," Brees said. "You just hope you're in a position where more of them go your way than not, because arguably half the games in this league are decided by the last possession, and at times the last play. You could say that certainly that's been the case for our team. Three out of the six games have come down to literally the last play."
The Saints have played their past three games without Moore, who expects to return when New Orleans plays against Buffalo in the Superdome on Oct. 27.
As much as it bothered the elder statesman of New Orleans' receiving corps to watch from the sideline in New England, unable to help his offence run out the clock and keep Brady off the field, he wondered whether the loss might serve as an important motivator for a team that could have gotten too comfortable with itself had it gone into its short vacation at 6-0.
"It's kind of a reality check, because a couple of those games could have gone the other direction, and I would say we're extremely fortunate to be 5-1 and sitting in a pretty good position," Moore said. "So I feel like we're a good team, but I feel like we can definitely be a great team. We've got a lot of work to do to get there, a lot of things to sharpen up on and get some guys back, myself included.
"We'll get healthier in this bye week, continue to put our foot on the gas with the way that we work, improving every day, and I think you'll see a pretty good finished product."
In any event, the Saints have come a long way in a year's time. In 2012, with head coach Sean Payton suspended the whole season in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation into the Saints defence's cash-for-hits bounty system, New Orleans opened with four losses and never recovered, finishing 7-9 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Payton returned last January, and players said it wasn't long before his contagious competitive fire and knack for Chief Executive Officer-style quality control began to take hold again.
One of his first tasks was hiring defensive co-ordinator Rob Ryan to take over a unit which ranked last in the NFL in 2012, yielding an NFL-record 7,042 yards. Ryan's group has been more opportunistic, coming out of Week 6 tied for sixth in takeaways with 12. New Orleans also did not give up as many as 20 points in a game until the loss to the Patriots.
Meanwhile, Payton has been calling plays again for an offence which was tied for fifth in yards per game (397.7) after six weeks.
Looking back at Payton's more recent coaching record, perhaps New Orleans' one-year turnabout in fortune shouldn't be a surprise. Since 2009 — Payton's fourth year as a head coach and the season New Orleans won its only Super Bowl — the Saints coach is 46-14, including 4-2 in the playoffs. That's a winning percentage of .766.
"I'm encouraged that there are a handful of things that we're going to be able to improve on and work on, and we haven't played our best football and we're sitting at 5-1," Payton said. "You can easily look at a few games that could have gone a different direction, but they didn't. I like the work ethic, the competitive nature of this team. I like it a lot.
" I think that getting back after this bye, there are a few things we're going to be able to clean up and work to improve on as we get ready for this long stretch of the season."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
(1 of 50 articles for this week)12/10/2013 10:05 PM 0
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Ryan Seymour was standing on the visitor's side of Candlestick Park on Sunday.
Two days later, he ...
Photo Store Gallery
Most Popular NFL
- Hard work pays off for long-shot defensive lineman Stefan Charles
- 49ers sign guard Ryan Seymour to 3-year contract
- NFL moves Bears-Eagles to Sunday night game on Dec. 22
- Dolphins' Starks hears teasing after video of tussle for fumble against Steelers goes viral
- QB Josh McCown has kept Bears in playoff race with stellar play
- Browns waive quarterback Caleb Hanie, who backed up Campbell on Sunday at New England
- Only thing better than being Auburn fan? Holding tickets for national title at 1,000-1 odds
- Jones calls for more aggressive play-calling on 'D' after Cowboys get picked up by Bears 45-28
- Rams guaranteed non-winning season after consecutive losses
- Te'o says rough rookie season has nothing to do with grief he's caught over girlfriend hoax
- Vikings come to agreement with Wells Fargo on signage issue around new stadium
- Nasty weather, with blowing snow, plagues several NFL games
- 5 things to know after Dalton, Bengals win 42-28 against Colts, who still clinch AFC South
- 5 things to know after Tom Brady's 2 TD passes in last 61 seconds lift Pats over Browns 27-26
- Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski lost for season, goes on injured reserve with injured right knee
- Houston Texans fire coach Gary Kubiak as skid reaches 11 games
- Unbeaten Buckeyes face another obstacle with benching of right guard in imperfect season
- NFL fines Steelers coach Mike Tomlin $100,000 for interfering with play against Ravens
- 5 things to know after Prater's record kick, Manning's 4 TDs lift Broncos over Titans 51-28
- It's not just quarterbacks who are putting up historic numbers in NFL's pass-happy days
- Man says he had no fear trying to catch woman who jumped from Oakland stadium deck
- Former Raiders tight end Todd Christensen dies during surgery at 57
- Survey finds Canadians don't want NFL here if it means demise of CFL
- Police: 1 dead, 3 in custody after altercation in Arrowhead Stadium parking lot in Kansas City
- Vikings and Packers play to a 26-26 tie after Green Bay storms back under Flynn
- 5 things we learned from Patriots comeback 34-31 OT win over Broncos in fumble-filled game
- Joe Montana says NFL locker rooms are tough, but Dolphins scandal can be handled
- Code Talker attends game, says Washington Redskins name not derogatory, is symbol of courage
- Former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd could get life in prison at sentencing for drug scheme
- Political football: Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends Bills-Falcons game
Ads by Google