To a man, New Orleans Saints players conceded that their bye week is coming at a good time.
New Orleans suffered several injuries during its last game – tight end Jimmy Graham, center Jonathan Goodwin, linebacker Ramon Humber and cornerback Patrick Robinson were among the players who were injured and unable to return against Tampa Bay.
The break will allow them, and others, time to heal before the Saints (2-3) return to play the Lions in Detroit on Oct. 19.
"Sometimes it's better to have (the bye) more in the middle of the season, or toward the end," safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "But it's a good time. We need to regroup and get everything handled."
More important than that, though, was that the Saints went into the break on the right note.
Their 37-31 overtime victory over the Buccaneers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome wasn't a complete and utter dismantling of Tampa Bay (1-4). But it was a resilient win; New Orleans rallied from a 31-20 deficit in the fourth quarter to score the final 17 points.
That result exponentially was more palatable than the alternative.
"I think it's huge," Vaccaro said. "Just having these losses these past couple of weeks, I've had a bad taste in my mouth and I couldn't imagine enduring that for two weeks before I got to play another game. So I think it's great. I think it's good for our team that we got a win going into the bye.
Photos from inside the New Orleans Saints locker room after the team's win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, October 5, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)
"People can say what they want about Tampa Bay and what type of team they are. But in this league, a win is a win. I don't care who you're playing. You see what happens around the league all the time, people get upset. A win is a win in this league."
Said defensive end Cam Jordan: "We finished it out the right way. It was a great team win, defensively and offensively, how we finished that game. It was surprising how resilient Tampa was and how they fought back and overcame a quick deficit. We had to fight back as well and get that win."
Fighting back and finishing, players said, are goals that the Saints haven't always been able to achieve this season. But by doing so against the Buccaneers – getting a couple of defensive stops in the fourth quarter, and taking the overtime kickoff and driving 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown – they presented to themselves evidence that they can be accomplished.
"We've had several games at the end – we talked about it earlier in the season – we've had several games that came down to the end and we didn't make plays," right tackle Zach Strief said. "There has to be an extra sense of urgency at the end.
"It was disappointing to get the ball back (with 1:05 left) and not score there at the end of regulation. That was disappointing for us and yet, we got another shot (in overtime). And I think that the thought in the huddle was, there's no options but to score a touchdown. We've got to get it done."
Getting it done allowed for a much more upbeat tone in the locker room. The win allowed the Saints to remain tied for second place in the NFC South Division, one game behind division-leading Carolina.
"When you come off a loss – when you come off a tough loss, and certainly we did (last Sunday, against Dallas) – you can't get back to playing quick enough," Coach Sean Payton said. "Everything the week after winning … I don't want to say is easier, but it's easier to come to work, easier to prepare, easier to get ready.
"We'll take this time, we'll get these guys rested some and come back Monday with a bonus practice."
Jordan said he'll take some of the time to critique the first five games, and he'll do so with a harsh eye.
"I'm probably going to harp on the negatives, just because I want to always keep myself propelling to be better," he said. "In any given game, there's a lot of positives and negatives but I like to straighten out the negatives first."
But the negatives, he said, will give way to one positive.
"We haven't played our best football yet, and that's scary and exciting at the same time," Jordan said. "We still have a lot to improve upon."