OPINION / ANALYSIS
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ― Foxborough, Mass., isn’t exactly a mile high.
Heck, it’s not even 300 feet above sea level.
But it’s the spot where the Saints will look back and say they came crashing back down to Earth, even if it did come at roughly only 20 stories above the ground.
For a team that became so accustomed to street namings and parades and national TV show appearances and book signings and etc., etc., etc., Thursday night’s 27-24 loss to New England brought them down a lot from more like the top of Mount Everest.
Tracy Porter admits it.
“Watching the film is going to bring us back down to Earth and let us know we have a lot work to do,” the young cornerback said, sitting at his locker between other sullen teammates.
And if you think it’s just Porter, you’re mistaken.
“I think we all need it,” said right tackle Jon Stinchcomb, the Saints’ longest-tenured player at eight years. “It’s very much a wake-up call. For a first preseason game, you definitely want to come out and put your best foot forward. To come away with a loss, first of all, is disappointing.
“To make some of the mistakes we made out there, it makes you kind of want to get right back to work.”
The Saints certainly appeared rusty, giving up an average of 27.4 yards per kickoff return, allowing the Patriots to begin four drives inside New Orleans territory and allowing New England players to break tackle after tackle.
What’s troubling, even if it is a first preseason game, is that veterans were making rookie mistakes.
Porter was beat twice on passes that a year ago, the receiver had no chance of making.
Safety Pierson Prioleau time after time was run over or through in instances that in 2009, he would have made the sure tackle.
Receiver Devery Henderson dropped a pass that a season earlier, he was destined to hold onto.
Yet, you can’t go crazy over a preseason game, let alone the first one.
The Saints have been practicing together as a team for only two weeks. Rhythm has yet to be solidified and game-shape is still being worked out.
And if there’s one thing this team has proven over the past 12 months, it’s that they know how to not only come back, but how to work things out.
For much of the first 15 days, the Saints haven’t had the same intensity as 2009 and they certainly haven't been as physical as a year ago.
You can expect that to change this week. The coaching staff has proven adept at correcting what’s wrong.
“We definitely have to get back to the fundamentals,” Porter said. “We had a lot of miscues with tackling, placement, where we were on the field, just being in the right place at the right time.
“We have to do a lot more technique-wise and tackling-wise. We’ve just got to get to the fundamentals.”