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Saints player interviews after Panthers game

Luke McCown, Benjamin Watson, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Browner, Marcus Murphy and Max Unger spoke with media after Sunday's game

Luke McCown,New Orleans Saints quarterback

Overall assessment of your play

"I thought as a team our focus was tempo. Getting in and out of the huddle quickly. Getting our plays off. Getting the things that we wanted to accomplish early in the game done, and I felt like we did that. I felt like we established a rhythm there with a couple of good drives in the first half. That goal, specifically, starting fast and keeping a good pace to the game early, I thought we did a good job of that."

Playing with a wristband

Yeah, I think so. I've never been a guy that's worn a wristband. Growing up in John Gruden's offense, he makes you memorize the plays and the formations that way he can just say the play and another formation. But that cuts out a couple of seconds, as far as play calling when you step into the huddle on a key third down. I think the wristband has some merit there. It accomplished what we thought it would accomplish in saving some time at the line. Especially when you're playing a defense that has a multitude of fronts and linebacker mugs and different looks they can give you, you want to have as much time as a quarterback to decipher protection schemes whatever is going on. So yeah, I think it helped.

Drew Brees helping him on the sidelines

"Fantastic. Fantastic. I told him a little while ago that literally it was like I could feel you in the huddle beside of me calling the play. I appreciate everything that he does for me… that we do for each other as teammates. On this team and how we collaborate on what works and what we are seeing. Believe it or not it's not the easiest thing in the world to be able to drop back and be able to see each position and this corner and is dropping and how this safety is playing and this and that, so it's nice to go over to the sideline and have an extra pair of eyes just kind of confirming what you may have seen the play before."

Lack of possessions or leaving too many points on the field

"Both. When you win, you think, we could have done even better. When you lose, you think, we could have done even better. I don't think there's any one aspect where we went if we just had two more possessions or two more seconds or just made one more play. It all plays a part in winning a football game, and we are fighting through some of those things right now. But I was proud of our team, I was proud of the way that we played. I was proud of the way we were running the ball, the offensive line, the receivers, the things that we had blocking down field. Seeing (Senio) Kelemete come in for Jahri (Evans) and playing a great game. I was really proud of the way that we played this game, we just came up a little bit short, and we have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for another game."

Early rhythm and balance in the first half

"One of the things that I wanted to accomplish in this game was see what I was throwing at, basically. Again with the multitude of fronts and defensive looks that we had prepared for, you want to make sure you are seeing everything right. And they came out and did exactly what we thought they were going to do and so that allowed us to find a groove throwing the football, and receivers ran precise, crisp routes with proper timing which allows us to get the ball out quick and that lends itself to completions. Completions lends itself to moving the chains so to find a rhythm like that early and guys start feeling it and they get in a groove. I feel like we did a good job of that in the game."

How are you feeling being a few years removed from a starter about losing?

"I don't like that feeling. Let's just put it that way. No competitor likes that feeling. When you feel like you have a chance there at the end and come up short. You never go into the game going ah, it's ok to lose. I mean, the sun is going to come up tomorrow but it's not going to make it feel better today but there's no glass jars in this locker room. Everybody has a stiff neck. We have great resolved on this team to bounce back from whatever high or low we face from this game. Marcus Murphy is a great example of that. He fumbles a punt and rekick and takes it to the house. That's great resolve and that's what you want to see in a team. You saw that in a rookie. So there are things to build on, and there's good things about it. There's things that we'll take from it and feel good about ourselves, and there are things that we'll look at and say we could have played better."

Did you get the coverage you wanted on the interception?

"You have to know the sequence of plays. It was the exact same play that we had ran one, maybe two plays earlier to Colston on the right side. And Josh Norman, their young corner, he's a good player. And he's aggressive. And he reads well. And we felt like we had something on him that with a particular concept we could have gotten him to settle his feet and Cooksie (Brandin Cooks) would run right by him. That's what happened the play before. I threw it to Colston. I ran over to Sean (Payton), and I said we need to call that again. And he said, ok call it. And they ended up switching, still a pressure look, same thing we got a couple plays before but Josh made a good play. I think he recognized the area. Either way, at the moment you felt like we had them on their heels, and we wanted to take a shot and there's a good chance at the corner in the endzone. Norman made a great play on the ball.

Communicating with your brother this week?

"Yeah, we talked a little before the game today. As you referenced a moment ago, how old we are, we know that we don't get to do this that much longer so you relish the opportunities, and you want to have fun with them. And that was kind of his deal. He said, 'Hey go have fun with it. No regrets. Go play to win.' And so I appreciated that from Josh. I don't know how his game came out today but again, we are very blessed to be in this position, where he can lean on me. I can lean on him.We recognize that we are very fortunate to have each other to bounce things off of and deal with the highs and lows that go along with this league."

Was it fun?

"Playing is always fun. Being in the huddle with the guys and seeing the desire in their eyes to win. It is always fun. I enjoyed every minute of it."

Can you tell us what happened on the missed extra point

" Yeah, I can. I dropped the ball. I dropped the ball. Caught the snap fine and went to put it down and I had visions of Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks all over again. I just dropped it. It's my fault."

Are you pleasantly surprised at your play?

"No, not at all. I prepared to play well. I expect to play well. I've been doing it a long time and I know that you are not around this long if you can't play. So no. I'm not surprised by it."

Did the game slow down for you?

"Yeah, absolutely. A lot of it has to do with the guys around you. You look around and you see Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead and Ben Watson and Josh Hill and Zach Strief and Max Unger and these guys. And they look at you and they don't show any panic. They don't show any dire straights situation. They don't show any emotion. It makes you feel good as a quarterback because they are leaning on you. They are listening to your words when you call a play and how you address them in the huddle and how you look into their eyes. Gruden used to tell me all the time – I've referenced him a lot because I spent the most time with him – but he used to say you got to call every play in the huddle like it's your favorite play and it's the best play that has ever been called whether it's a handoff to the fullback or a deep post throw, and I try and do that. I try and do that with my guys. So they can see that I trust them because I'm only going to be as good as they are and I know they are really good players. So I believe every play is going to win because they are going to do their job."

How does this team dig out? Can it?

"Yeah, absolutely it can. Go back to the drawing board. Study the tape. Eliminate the penalties. The inch here and inch there. It truly is a game of inches. You're that close. You just have to keep straining. Keep pushing ahead. You can't linger on the thing that hasn't gone our way so far because we have another opponent coming up next week, and if you linger on it, pretty soon they'll step on your throat just as well if you linger too long. So we have to go back to the drawing board and pick ourselves up and we'll find a way to win."

Does New Orleans have a quarterback controversy?

"No. absolutely not. He's a hall of famer. I'm just a guy from East Texas."

Benjamin Watson, Saints tight end

On Luke McCown

"Luke is a veteran. He has been around this game for a very long time. There is a reason why he is a quarterback here; it is because the coaches have great confidence in what he can do. Obviously he came out today; he gave us a great chance to win. I thought Luke played a fabulous game. If we, I would have made a couple more plays here or there, I think we would have won the game."

On the margin of error being small

"Every game we have made some critical mistakes and I made a huge one today. It really hurts. We put a lot into this. You hate to let your team down. We definitely have a small margin for error. I feel like defense played great, I feel like at quarterback, we played great. A lot of guys made some great plays today. We played a great football team. Carolina is a good football team. They have been that way for the past couple of seasons. They deserve the win. When we look at the film we will say we were close, but close isn't good enough. We are in the winning business and we are paid to get wins and we haven't gotten any."

Does it feel like you have to be perfect?

"You will never be perfect. It is an imperfect game played by imperfect people. Perfection is not something that is attainable, but you want to strive for it definitely. You understand that there are going to be mistakes in every game. The hope is that you have fewer than the other team. Today we gave ourselves a chance to win, we played good football team, but they were better today."

Brandin Cooks, Saints reveiver

On Luke McCown

"Luke just did a great job. He's always ready. The way he practices it's like he's playing every week. So he came out here and gave us a chance and that's all that we needed. We just didn't capitalize, but he definitely came out and did that."

On the last throw in the end zone

"That was one of those plays that coach probably had saw something earlier, I saw something earlier, we communicated that, we dialed it up, it didn't end up being the coverage that we wanted. Luke still took a chance with me. As a player like me, I have to go and make that play. If not make the play, make sure that it's not intercepted and give us another chance."

What is the challenge going forward?

"To keep fighting, to keep pressing on and keep staying together, because there is going to be a lot of noise. We just have to make sure that inside the locker room that we know what we have and keep going to work together and keep fighting. That's what the game is all about."

Receivers doing a good job on being open today

"That is just coach dialing up plays, being a good coach, putting us in the right position to be able to come open and be able to make plays and Luke putting the ball there."

Brandon Browner, Saints cornerback

Did you all play more zone today than man to man?

"Yeah we did, it was the game plan."

On the play of young players in the absence of veterans

" Our young guys aren't scared of the big stage, we've got rookies that ball out. I think they played well today, they've been playing well all year long. We've been in every game and it's come down to the last few minutes of each game the ball just hasn't turned over."

On the mood of the team

"We all understand we've been in some battles. We have been in close ones. Sooner or later it is going to fall our way."

Marcus Murphy, Saints running back/return apecialist

On the punt returned for a touchdown

"I made the best of our second chance, not only me, but the rest of the return team. The coaches put me in a good position to be comfortable and be confident back there and everything just turned out well."

On his play

"It feels good, just contributing to the overall play of the team. We didn't come out and get the victory. We have to work harder, come back and fix the small things, fix the small details next week. I think we are doing good things in the return game and offensively and defensively."

Is the team close to breaking through

"Yes we do think we are close, we just have to finish. Some things haven't been going our way. We've been practicing hard; we have been putting it together all season. We just have to come out, work harder and finish."

Max Unger, Saints center

On Luke McCown stepping in and playing the way he did

"You know, that was a pretty awesome performance by him. He came in there and got everyone on the same page, ripped it out, made protection calls and had a heck of a game."

If he felt like everyone on the offense had to step up without Drew Brees

"A lot of different positions have guys coming in and obviously with Drew not being able to it's a lot different but we definitely had a lot of reps with Luke throughout the preseason and I think that reflected in the offensive performance today."

How did the offense change with McCown at quarterback instead of Brees?

"We didn't change too much, the run concepts were pretty similar and the passing game, coach had dialed up pretty well. RE: At 0-3 what is the emotion state of the team right now? Everyone's aware of it obviously; this is not where we want to be right now. This is a pretty tough spot to get yourself out of and it's pretty cliché but you have to win one and pile it up and turn your head around a little late in the season and see where you are at."

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