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John DeShazier: Saints looking to replicate positives from 3-game winning streak

Mistakes cropped up in loss to Titans

The home loss – a 34-28, overtime decision to a 1-6 Tennessee Titans team in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – was an undeniable setback for a New Orleans Saints team that had won three straight games and raised its record to .500 after an 0-3 start.

But it didn't knock the Saints (4-5) back to square one as they prepare for Sunday's game against Washington (3-5) at FedExField.

The New Orleans team that won three straight, and four of five after losing its first three, still is the one that resides in the locker room, players said.

"The same way that we got going on the right course," right tackle Zach Strief said, as to how the Saints can get back on track. "You've got to work. We'll grow from the situation (against Tennessee), it's another experience that this team is going to have. The next time we're in it we need to be aware of the pitfalls of the things that hurt us in that game.

"I think it comes a little bit with the confidence. Like we said a week ago, guys being in the situation where we're able to move the ball and get a stop when we need it. I think there's more confidence coming but obviously, this team has tons of room to grow and we need to keep improving.

"I would say that the good thing is, the energy, the effort, the desire in that game was right and it was there and I think we came out the right way. We made a lot of mistakes that kept us from winning."

The Saints totally hadn't eliminated mistakes during their three-game run, but had been able to navigate through them en route to wins over Atlanta, Indianapolis and the Giants.

But the miscues against Tennessee – a fumbled punt, an interception, a blocked field-goal attempt, a deflected pass that was caught and run for a touchdown, eight penalties for 75 yards – simply were too much, Strief said.

"I don't think anyone has a lot of room for error," he said. "I think that the teams that are winning, and are winning handily, are not making the mistakes that we're making.

"I don't think you expand your room for error. I think you tighten things up and stop doing the things that are getting you beat – turning the ball over, giving up pressures, not being efficient in the run game. Those things need to be improved and need to be consistently better and you won't end up in these situations."

Thus, the Saints will look to replicate the positives that occurred during the streak.

They ran the ball effectively (367 yards), affected the quarterback (12 sacks), forced turnovers (seven), protected quarterback Drew Brees (three sacks allowed) and got off the field on third down (opponents were seven for 33, 21 percent).

"I think we just get back into our routine," safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "Tough loss, we didn't come out on the right end. It's unfortunate but at the same time we've got to move on and get ready for the Redskins.

"We'll be fine. After an 0-3 start we bounced back. One loss is not going to determine our season. We'll keep fighting. It's been a resilient group all year and we'll continue to be that group.

"We had a chance to go over .500, which would have been big. But at the same time, it is what it is. It happened and we've got to move on."

Moving on with a win would pull the Saints even again heading into the bye week.

"It's critical," Vaccaro said. "Any time you can go into a bye week with a win and have some momentum, have some confidence while you're resting your body and getting ready for that following week is good."

Photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Tennessee Titans game. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

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