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John DeShazier: Saints have been on wrong end of turnover battle first two weeks

Saints have committed four turnovers while forcing just one

The "fine line" twice has been crossed – barely – but with predictable results.

The New Orleans Saints have turned over the ball four times in their two games, against Atlanta and Cleveland, including a lost fumble on the game-ending kickoff return against Cleveland, when time expired and the team was scrambling to make something happen.

But the three turnovers that have occurred during the more critical stages of each game heavily have factored in the outcome.

An end zone interception and overtime fumble against Atlanta helped the Falcons eke out a 37-34 home victory in the season opener. And an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Cleveland helped stake the Browns to a 16-3 lead in what became a 26-24 victory in Cleveland's home opener.

Especially on the road, turnovers glare back, often from the scoreboard.

"Of course, we're all going to look at the film and we're going to say, 'I could have done better here, here, here and here,' " quarterback Drew Brees said. "There's always a list of things that each guy can look at and say, 'This is what I can do better individually and this is what we need to do better as an offense, as a defense or as a team.'

"There's a fine line between winning and losing. A fine line. Last year at this time, we had two really close games (in) Week One and Week Two. We made that play that resulted in wins and we started off 2-0. Unfortunately, the flip side of that is this year. We have not made those plays and that's why we are 0-2."

The lack of critical play-making has been in several areas. From the defense failing to stop a critical drive, to the offense being unable to close out with a game-winning march, to the special teams committing a penalty on a field-goal attempt or not making a discernible impact in the return game, the Saints haven't performed as they'd envisioned they would.

But the turnovers particularly have been a hindrance. It doesn't take many of them to spoil a decent day's work.

"Not getting any takeaways and losing by one increment, when you take the last two games, we lost that battle by one," Coach Sean Payton said. "Both those games finished on closing field goals, so it's significant when you're looking at games that close."

It's an offseason point of emphasis that hasn't yet resulted in a regular-season yield.

Thus, even though the Saints haven't committed many, they've been significant because they have forced less. Safety Jairus Byrd's forced fumble against Atlanta, which was recovered in the end zone by cornerback Corey White, is the Saints' lone forced turnover in two games.

The belief is that that number will increase, while the giveaway number will decrease.

"We talk about that every week, taking care of the ball," receiver Robert Meachem said. "We just have to do better at taking care of the ball and put ourselves in positions to help our quarterback, help our line, help the running backs. Do things that we know we can do better."

"Every week, every game, you can look at the turnover battle and you can pretty much tell how the game went," left tackle Terron Armstead said. "That's definitely an important part of our emphasis."

Photos from the New Orleans Saints game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, September 14, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)

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