The New Orleans Saints have, after their 13-10 loss to Dallas at AT&T Stadium Thursday night, which snapped their 10-game winning streak, the second longest in franchise history.
True, it stung. New Orleans (10-2) hadn’t lost since the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 9, had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win, and saw its potent offense knocked off track by Dallas’ defense.
“When you have it going like that, we were rolling,” center Max Unger said. “We were in a really good rhythm and we just, for whatever reason, fell out of that. And it's up to us to kind of look back and see what we had done well in the previous wins and kind of recover that momentum, if you will.
“But that was a tough loss. Yeah, it's obviously not what we wanted.”
That said, there’s no need to overcorrect. What worked well enough to produce victories for two-and-a-half months – including five games of at least 43 points scored and six of 19 points or less allowed – shouldn’t be discounted because of one loss.
“I’d say it’s more like get back to our foundation,” Unger said. “This locker room is mature enough to recognize that loss for what it was and it just being a tough game for us, where we couldn’t get going and couldn’t get a rhythm going.
“Our defense played exceptionally and the offense just was not able to produce. (We need to) just kind of recognize those factors and (look at) not putting ourselves in those situations again. I would not say that we're worried about overcorrecting or anything like that, but just kind of moving forward.”
But before moving forward, it’s worth looking back long enough to note that the Saints, with 25 percent of the regular season remaining, are one of just three NFL teams with two or fewer losses, and their three-game lead in the loss column in the NFC South is tied for the second-largest margin.
“It's been good,” Unger said. “I mean we won a lot of the games this first stretch – started off rocky, but put a good stretch together and then obviously last night (we lost). We have done some good things.
“With our self-scout, there's always a lot of room for improvement. These next five days before we start game-planning, we’ll go back and look at that and see what we did well and what we need to improve on. But I thought that we had a good rhythm going and we got to just kind of get back to that going forward.”
Unger said the nine-day break between games will give the Saints a chance to refocus.
“This is 100 percent commitment, back to work and (Coach) Sean (Payton) said that after the game, just examine everything, get back to what we're doing and kind of reload for the start of the fourth quarter of the season,” he said.