GREEN BAY, Wis. — As they stood in the visitors’ locker room at Lambeau Field late Sunday afternoon, the New Orleans Saints didn’t want to hear about positives.
This is how they felt despite playing their best game so far this season in a 28-27 loss, their fourth straight to open the season, against the Green Bay Packers:
Positives don’t get you to the playoffs. Wins get you to the playoffs.
While the positives were encouraging signs of improvement, the Saints know they won’t pay the bills.
“Nobody’s into taking positives from a loss,” said strong safety Roman Harper, one of the team’s defensive captains.
For the second week in a row, the Saints were in position to put an end to their early season woes before failing. And for the second straight week, they couldn’t finish the job.
One week after blowing a 24-6 third-quarter lead over the Kansas City Chiefs and falling 27-24 in overtime, the Saints, who weren’t given much of a chance to win Sunday, had the Packers on the hook in the second half.
They led 27-21 early in the fourth quarter after quieting the usually festive crowd completely late in the third period on Drew Brees’ shocking 80-yard touchdown pass to Joe Morgan.
The offense was clicking like it had in the past.
The defense was playing complementary football, coming up with two Packers turnovers that the offense turned into 10 second-half points.
The recipe for a win was suddenly there.
Then, it got away from them again when Garrett Hartley missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt that might have given them an upset win in a stadium that is decorated with 13 NFL championship trophies — including four silver Super Bowl trophies with the name of their legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, engraved on them.
While the Saints looked a lot better, they couldn’t avoid the dreaded 0-4 start.
Only one NFL team has ever made the playoffs after such a start: the 1992 San Diego Chargers.
But with the current Chargers coming to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night, the Saints are thinking only about trying to avoid their first 0-5 start since Sean Payton took over in 2006.
They’ll try not to think about being one of only two winless teams in the league along with the Cleveland Browns and think only about breaking out — like they nearly did Sunday.
“Overall, it wasn’t a good enough effort to get the win,” Harper said of the narrow loss to the Packers. “We’ve got to take our lumps with it, and continue to fight this battle and continue to grind. We’ll be fine.
“We all believe in each other’s abilities and we’re just going to continue to grind,” he added. “As long as we’ve got another game, we’re going to continue to swing and go out there and play. It’s not a lack of confidence. We go into every game believing we’re going to win this game. ...We just have not been on the winning end yet.”
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