MICKLES: Now time to keep loss in perspective

GREEN BAY, Wis. - It would be silly, not to mention terribly wrong, to overreact to what happened to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.

Yes, the Saints’ defense looked like a sieve at times. Yes, as a team, they made many more mistakes than they could afford to make. Yes, they failed to execute on big plays late in the third quarter and the last play of the game.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes, they dropped a 42-34 decision to the reigning Super Bowl champions, who, after celebrating their latest NFL championship with their fans, were more excited than they usually are when they play at home.

And yes, there are some who are going to read a whole lot more into what transpired against a quality team that might be better, make that is better, than a year ago when a series of injuries nearly ruined its season.

It’s not like the Saints played the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs, who, in going 0-14 in their first year of existence, lost those 14 games by an

average of 20.5 points a game.

Still, the Saints, while disappointed, have to sit back and think about a game that they could and perhaps should have won - which is one of the things they’ll try to build off when they begin preparing for their next game against Chicago on Sept. 18.

Now, if some of the same things continue to show up, specifically poor tackling by the defense and not being able to match up physically on both sides of the line of scrimmage, there will be a problem.

But it’s way, way too early to reach for the panic button after one game against one of the NFL’s elite teams that was playing in a highly emotional setting - much like the Saints were in one year ago.

It’s one of 16 games and unlike LSU, which would have been in a deep hole right off the bat had it lost to Oregon, there’s a whole lot of season left.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Sean Payton is going to sweep all the bad things under the rug. He’ll point them out and emphasize them and do what he always does: look at what they did well.

Like throwing the ball, like playing better defense in the second half and forcing the Packers to punt on three of their last four possessions-including a pair of encouraging three-and-outs.

Like Drew Brees throwing for 419 yards - tying his fifth-highest total as a Saint - like Devery Henderson catching six balls for 100 yards, and Darren Sproles returning a punt 72 yards for a score and piling up 250 all-purpose yards.

“The most important thing we have to do is certainly pay close attention to the film and really find ourselves pretty critical of what we do,” Payton said.

“It’s us as coaches looking closely at the tape and really evaluating that loss - as hard as that is - and getting ready to play next week.”