METAIRIE, La. ― After the Saints lost to Dallas and Tampa Bay in December 2009, fans and followers wondered what was wrong with the Saints.
You know, where’d the offense go and have the big plays vanished?
Through five games this season, the Saints appeared a step behind offensively and, quite frankly, figured out by opponents.
That stretch ended with a 30-20 loss to the Cardinals in which the Saints turned the ball over four times and had difficulty in the red zone.
A week later, the Saints took that loss and turned it into a 31-6 win over Tampa Bay.
“You have to look at every game, every scenario, albeit it might stink at the time like the Arizona game last week,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “It stunk real bad, but you have to use it as a positive, which I feel like we did and we came out and had our best performance of the year thus far.”
Just like a season ago, the Saints have been injured during their rough stretch. On offense, the team is down running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. Defensively, they have missed at one point or another cornerback Tracy Porter, defensive back Randal Gay, linebacker Scott Shanle, defensive end Will Smith and cornerback Jabari Greer left Sunday’s game early with a left arm issue.
And that’s not to mention having safety Darren Sharper, who led the team in interceptions a season ago, on the PUP list for the opening six weeks.
Still, Sunday’s win was the opposite of the Arizona game. While the Saints were still penalized heavily – nine times for 80 yards – they hit on touchdown passes of 41 and 42 yards and runs of 33, 27 and 18 yards.
For Head Coach Sean Payton, a loss is never a positive. But he knew the Saints had learned a lesson or two by watching his team go through practice this past week.
“That was a tough loss and hopefully we learned from some of the lessons in that game,” Payton said. “But the following week, the response that was encouraging was how we worked on Wednesday, how we worked on Thursday and how we prepared on Friday. That’s the thing that gets you excited about coming to work. When it becomes more challenging and tougher, that’s one of the things that our players do a good job with.”