Handwerger: Saints improve against Packers, but it may be too late

Handwerger: Saints improve against Packers, but it may be too late

Credit: Getty Images

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints awaits the start of play against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Saints 28-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 30, 2012 at 9:23 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 1 at 9:48 AM

OPINION

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Drew Brees stood on a dais underneath the stands at Lambeau Field early Sunday evening and wouldn’t allow himself to proclaim shock or anger or anything of that sort after the Saints lost 28-27 to the Packers.

Instead, he did something else. He went another direction.

“It stinks, but I know the type of guys we have,” Brees said. “I know the direction we’re headed and it’s all very positive. Despite where we’re at right now, I believe that this team is going to do something.”

New Orleans is 0-4 and if it’s going to do something, it has to start now.

It would be easy to write off the Saints. For three weeks, the team was horrible and, with only one team making the playoffs since 1990 after an 0-4 start, it would make sense.

But no one in the Saints organization is giving up and they still believe, though it was hard to wade through the disappointment in the locker room after the game.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

“They’re going to be a little bit disheartened,” Saints interim head coach Aaron Kromer said. “But we’re going to fight back and climb the mountain. It’s going to be a mountain now. It’s 0-4 and we’re going to come to work and we’re going to climb that mountain. Because they Saints always do things that people don’t expect. It’s part of our nature.”

Through roughly nine of the first 12 quarters of the Saints’ season, they were the worst team in the NFL. They made uncharacteristic mistakes on offense, turning the ball over and muddling through third downs. And they were completely confused on defense, becoming one of the league’s historically bad units.

Heading into Sunday, the only wins the Panthers, Redskins and Chiefs had on their records came against the Saints.

Against Green Bay, though, the proverbial corner appeared to be turned.

New Orleans’ offense ran up 474 total yards, converted 9 of 17 third downs and didn’t turn the ball over.

Though the defense allowed 421 yards, it forced two turnovers and came up with three stops in a row in the second half, holding Green Bay to just one score in the final 30 minutes.

If you felt it at home, you can be sure it was felt on the sidelines in those wearing white and black.

“I felt like, damn, this is how we’re supposed to play,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “This is how we play. This is what we do. This is how it’s supposed to feel when we’re out here.”

He added, “Now we’ve just got to get a win so we can stop sulking when we come in after games. I’d love to be here with a smile on my face after the game. That’s really all I want to do.”

And yet,  there’s still this one fact hanging heavily over the franchise right now – they’re 0-4 and as far away from the playoffs as they’ve been in five years.

As good as the team can feel about their performance against the Packers, they’re fighting up a mountain as tall as Everest.

“Oh-4 is unimaginable for this team or any team,” Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton said. “I thought it was impossible for us to be it. It is what it is. We dug ourselves a deep hole and we’ve got to climb out and keep fighting and throw more punches.”

Corner turned or not, New Orleans is now in a position where it has to be perfect or near it. There can be no more slipups; there’s no room for them.

While few others may give them a chance, they’re not worried about what anyone else thinks. Their focus now is on only San Diego, the next opponent.

“No one’s confidence in this locker room has wavered,” Saints receiver Marques Colston said. “In order to go on a run you’ve got to get one. That’s our goal right now.”

And that’s the only goal than can have if they’re going “to do something.”

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