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Drew Brees, Saints players talk about loss to Buccaneers

Saints players met with the media following Tampa game


On how the Saints played:
"Listen, we were first-and-goal there on the 1-yard line, it really would have been nice to punch it in for seven points there and close the gap 13-12 going into halftime. It was obviously a huge momentum swing knowing that we were getting the ball coming out in the second half. Those were big plays in the game when you add it all up in the end."

On the play of both offenses:
"I think they [Tampa Bay] got after us a little bit early on but then I think we settled in and started having the opportunity to make some plays. We put some nice drives together after the first quarter. Unfortunately we just weren't coming away with touchdowns."

On anything similar between this week and last week:
"No, different schemes. I would say we probably didn't get into our run game as much as we would have liked in both weeks. I just say the overall production, obviously, wasn't what we're used to or what our standard is."

On the three interceptions:
"The first one got thrown a little bit behind [tight end] Coby [Fleener] and the guy tipped it and unfortunately there was one of their guys there. The second one was a poor decision and then the last one, you know, it is fourth down. Listen, when you turn the ball over three times in the game and two times throughout the flow of the game, that can't happen. I know that, I know better. Sometimes it is part of the game, but when you are in tight games like this, obviously ball security is crucial. You've got to be able to turn it loose and play confident and also understand just what that does from a momentum standpoint and possibly field position and that kind of thing."

On eight losses for third straight season:
"It's tough, yeah, it's very tough. We are all professionals here and we've got to continue to work and continue to grind. I have always believed you go through times like these, moments like these and there is something you are going to be able to pull out of it that is going to be positive and you may not feel it now or know it now, but it is going to allow you to accomplish the things in the future that you want to accomplish. It is just hard to swallow right now."

On the challenges offense faced with punt downed at the 1-yard line:
"Listen, anytime you are backed up inside the 5, you're somewhat limited with what you can call. I felt like, especially with the two-minute drive, that we had two big plays, bang, bang and we're almost to midfield. That was good on our part it just would have been nice to keep the drive going and see if we could punch it in for a touchdown."

On the most effective thing Tampa Bay did to disrupt play:
"I would say they got after us in the pass rush early on. I'd say we weren't able to get any real, I want to say, explosive runs, but just kind of a flow. We weren't able to find our rhythm early on. Again, that is something we as an offense need to really take a look at the tape, really take a look at what we are doing. Our benchmark is much higher. Our standard is much higher than the way that we've played the last two weeks. Especially the way we've started the game the last two weeks. I think it really sets the tone for the rest of the game. When you can start fast there is a big confidence boost there, not only for you as an offense, but as a team, and I think it just sets the tone for the rest of the game."

On how not having center Max Unger affect the game:
"Listen, Max is a huge part of our offense and he is a stud, you know, but I think [running back] Tim [Hightower] stepped in and did a great job, just like other guys have had to do along the offensive line all year long. Andrus Peat had to play left tackle and left guard in [tackle] Terron [Armstead's] absence. [Center/Guard] Senio [Klemete] has come in and played a little bit everywhere as well. Those guys, man, I think they're the best group in football. Not only in the way they play but the way they work together and just their continuity."

On the impact of penalties and how it affected the game:
"It is a real shot in the arm. You get something going and then all of a sudden there is a penalty or you don't even allow a drive to get started because you get a penalty in third-and-long. Those will get you. Sacks and penalties are drive killers."

On professionalism as a team in past three weeks:
"We play because this is our job and we love to do it and there are tough times, there are tough moments. But I think there are some things that we want to see from ourselves in the last three weeks and that is important."


On New Orleans finding ways to lose:
"Yes, finding ways or crazy finishes. You could go back, but just some crazy finishes along the way, but that's football. You never know. Any given Sunday, you never know what could happen."

On the versatility of the safety group:
"I think it just shows the quality of players that we have back there, to be able to do that and just bounce around and not skip a beat and, from a quick glance, do what we did today. I think that shows a lot. Any time you have a guy like Roman (Harper) who's been here before and is a true vet and communication and stuff like that – even if it's not right, you'll figure it out. You know what I mean? So, it helps out a lot. I think we just plug and play."

On what the team looks for over the last three games:
"Win. Like I said, we have to be professional. This is our job, so we have to go out and win games. That's it."


On what Tampa Bay did on defense to keep New Orleans from scoring a touchdown:
"Nothing. We had too many penalties to start off with. When you start off slow like that against good teams it gets hard to get it going. We bit ourselves in the foot."

On if he thought he made the catch in the end zone:
"I honestly did. I don't remember the ball moving at all once I went down, there. They don't tell you if the ball hit (the ground) before or after I touched it, but I don't how you can overturn a call like that."

On the offense having back-to-back games without scoring a touchdown:
"Like I said, the past couple of weeks we started off slow – a bunch of penalties. When you have a bunch of penalties you get behind the eight-ball, it's hard to get those first downs, get those conversions, get in your groove. Tonight we showed that."

On how frustrating it is when the team could not capitalize on opportunities:
"It's frustrating. Just have to go back to the drawing board and work harder. Just work that much harder to make sure next time they come up in your favor."

On how the team approaches the last three games of the season:
"Continue to work, continue to work, stay together."

On what New Orleans has to change when they play Tampa Bay in two weeks:
"Like I said, we have to not get all those penalties. Not to bite ourselves in the foot."


On the team not playing well together:
"It goes back and forth each week. I think we just have to come together as a team and play sound games where offense, defense and special teams are giving each other good opportunities. That's what we're trying to do on defense is give our offense the best possible scenario we can out there. We played a good team tonight. Unfortunately, like I said, we weren't able to get the win."

On if their safety in the second quarter sparked their defensive play:
"I think so. I felt like early on in the game we just didn't have the rhythm that we had the last couple of weeks. As soon as we were able to settle in, catch our breath and get a good rhythm I felt like we started to play better. Obviously with field position like that, pinning them down there like that was huge. Being able to have big plays like that puts our team in a good situation."

On nearing the end of the season and falling behind in the division:
"It's always better when you're sitting in a comfortable position in the conference with your record and everything. This is really what the NFL is all about. You have to find a way to motivate yourself to come back and play effectively each week no matter what the circumstances are. So that's what we're going to do."


On starting in place of Max Unger:
"Basically I had to try and replace the best center in the league, so obviously I didn't do that. It wasn't enough today. Just go back to the drawing board. We put him in there every day for QB-Center exchange (practice), so it's not like it's a huge change being a backup. You've just got to be ready to go in at any position at any time."

On how he did pointing out different things the defense was doing at the line of scrimmage:
"In our offense Drew [Brees] does a lot of that. So the weight of that is kind of taken off our shoulders at center. But I think I pointed out a lot of stuff, but like I said before, it wasn't enough to get us the win today and that's all that matters."

On penalties affecting their offensive rhythm:
"It's huge, those are drive killers. Penalties are always drive killers no matter what they are. Whether its false start, holding – whatever it is, they're always drive killers."

On settling for a field goal instead of scoring a touchdown as the first half ended:
"It was huge, it would have given us the touchdown going in and given us possession of the ball at the start of the second half. We shot ourselves in the foot the whole first half. We definitely should have drove the ball more on them, I think. Obviously, like I said before, we didn't get it done."


On limiting wide receiver Mike Evans to 42 yards:
"Any time you hold a No. 1 guy like that and keeping the offense at bay is always uplifting on defense, but at the same time it's a team game. We should've made another play. We expect ourselves to score and if we had done that we would've won. It's not all on special teams, offense, whatever the case may be. We have to make a play out there to set our offense up to get points and I don't think we did that today."

On the secondary playing well even with some starters being out:
"We have dogs in the secondary and we have guys that played earlier in the year. (Cornerback Ken) Crawley played earlier in the year and had to get those snaps. The stage isn't too big for him. He's had to follow (Atlanta Falcons wide receiver) Julio Jones around the field. He's comfortable going out there with number ones. B.W. (Webb) has been a starter in this league before. Obviously Roman Harper coming in, his knowledge of the game is amazing. We have guys who have been out there before and have been in this moment."

On if playing for Tampa Bay last season helped prepare him for this game:
"Just the type of offense that they run. It's very similar to what they did last year. Obviously inside throws, they want to feature their running game. (Running back) Doug (Martin) is healthy. He is an explosive back. I think our front seven did a good job with him. Overall on defense I think we did a good job. We had way too many penalties and we didn't get off the field on third down at times."

On how the team moves forward with three games left:
"As a man you have to look yourself in the mirror and say 'I'm out here for our pride, we're out here as a team.' No matter what it is I still want to go out here and fight for the guys in this locker room. We're one unit and playoffs or not you have to have the pride to come out here and compete."

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