The Saints met with the media on Monday to recap the Falcons game and preview their NFC South contest against the Panthers next Sunday.
WAKE UP CALL?:Head coach Sean Paytonwas asked Monday if he thought Sunday's 27-24 overtime loss to the Falcons would serve as a wakeup call for his team.
"It's not that they weren't attentive," said Payton. "It just reminds you of how fine a line there is between winning and being just average. Week in and week out, you have to do those specific things well if you want to win and we just didn't do them as well yesterday. If you try to take something from it, it's important that when we leave here today we can look closely at the things that we didn't do as well, that we have to improve on, not sugarcoat it. To look closely and see that these are the things that we have to improve on if we hope to be a good football team this year. Are we capable of doing those things? I think so."
HARTLEY RECEIVES SUPPORT: Garrett Hartleysaid a number of friends, family and other NFL kickers reached out to him last night after he missed a 29-yard field goal in overtime. Hartley said he is his "No. 1 critic" and is ready to get back on to practice field to "improve anyway I can."
"As they say, sometimes you are the hero and some times you are the goat," said Hartley. "I think last night I was wearing the horns. As much as of a disappointment it was for me, I still have to come back out here, learn from it and move forward."
THIRD DOWN DEFENSE IN FOCUS:Defensive captain Jonathan Vilma said Monday that their third-down defense is the squad's No. 1 area to improve. No. 51 said it the issue comes down execution.
"I wouldn't say it was a mental breakdown because it that would indicate you are not on the right guy or you or doing something else," said Vilma. "It's just we didn't execute. It was one thing if we did a different assignment or coverage but its different when you are doing the right thing and they still get the ball in there and still find a way to convert on third down."
"ONE GAME AT A TIME":LB Scott Shanle said it will be comforting for the team to be in a normal schedule this week as they prepare for the Panthers. The Falcons game was the first Sunday contest the black and gold have had and Shanle said the team will take advantage of working in their customary routine.
"I know a lot of teams say "we will take it one week at a time no matter who it is' but this team actually believes it," said Shanle. "I think we proved that last year when we took one week at a time and pulled off 13 straight to start. We can't do that now, but who is to say we can't win 12 straight from here on out? There is a lot of season left and I am confident this team can bounce back. "For us, we know we didn't play well. It would be one thing if we thought we played outstanding and still lost the game. We still feel like we are still the team to beat."