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Sean Payton, Saints players talk about Cowboys game

Coach met with the media following the game

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton:

Obviously we struggled in all the areas tonight. First off, you credit Dallas. I thought they played winning football in all three phases. We struggled offensively, defensively, kicking game, coaching. There's not going to be much good to see on this film. We're 1-3 right now and that's about how we're playing.

Is this the worst loss you've been a part of in several years?

No. Any time you lose a playoff game, those are, so ... look, obviously it was a one-sided game. You get in those games and clearly the better team won tonight.

What went into the decision to use the fake punt in the fourth quarter?

It's something we had up for awhile. Even versus their safe look, it was something we thought would have a chance. It was a misdirection ball.

They played in pretty well. Hindsight was 20-20. I had kind of gone back-and-forth. It was on the hash mark we wanted and they covered it pretty well.

Would you have gone for it regardless?

Once it got to be a two score game, there was still enough time. We try to use our time outs correctly. There was one of them before we got the sack but I don't know that we would have gone for it there with the yardage.

On defense, do you feel like this team's just having a hard time finding a combination that works?

Hey, listen, it wasn't just defense but obviously we struggled tackling. They rushed it well; they threw it well. I haven't seen third down numbers. I'm sure those are pretty lopsided. We became one-dimensional and you can get into that type of game and it's not a good thing. It wasn't just on one area. Shoot, all of us coaches – myself – starting with myself, we've got to be better.

On the team's takeaways.

Listen, we're not getting it and we're giving it, so that's a recipe for a loss. We haven't been able to take it away and obviously tonight when it was all said and done, we're minus three in that category, so the chances of winning a game like that are pretty slim.

On if the team's energy was an issue.

I don't know necessarily. We'll grade that when we put the tape on. I thought they came in with the right mindset. Obviously, though, it didn't match what Dallas's was.

The team seemed to respond in the second half. Was tonight's game a situation where everything just went wrong, even when you were getting something going? You couldn't sustain any momentum?

Well, look, obviously not enough. There was a period where it shifted a little bit there after we scored again and when we got the sack but not consistently enough.

Did losing Terron Armstead early change anything as far as what side of the line you wanted to go to on offense?

Listen, when you lose a good player like that, you're mindful of the rush, but I thought Bryce (Harris) held his own there. I thought he played well. We got pressured at times. It wasn't necessarily from the left side. Again, it becomes harder to play offensive line when you're in that type of game. Coming out at halftime, we were going to continue to run the ball and we were able to hit Khiry (Robinson) on that long run but, no, I thought he did a good job filling in.

On not being able to adjust on offense after a slow start.

We'll go back and look at the tape. I thought we struggled on early downs. We were inconsistent running the ball. We had a couple of the turnovers we talked about and we had some drops. There wasn't a lot of possessions. There was a point (in) that first quarter – and this is where

I think Dallas did a very good job – there was one possession I believe in the first quarter and then the time of possession was really tilted in their favor for the first half.

Was there a plan coming in not to do a lot of blitzing early?

No, there wasn't. We had trouble getting them to third down, though.

On the Cowboys being more of a running team.

They're doing a good job. The running back's playing well and you can see it. That balance helps them. I think it helps their defense tremendously.

Those guys up front are playing well. They did tonight.

What did you tell the guys after the game? You haven't been in this situation often.

Yeah, but that would be between me and those guys.

What can you say about the situation?

It's challenging. It's disappointing. It's frustrating. But that's on all of us right now. It's on me, it's on our staff, it's on the team and those are some of the things we've got to look to get better at. Obviously it's not where you want to be. We're one quarter through the season, 25 percent through the season. We've got to make sure we look closely at the reasons why we're not winning and I think that's important.

On the difficulty of making sure he doesn't make snap decisions as a coach with regard to changing things.

The first thing you have to do is make sure you look at the tape. Now, I don't have to get back to New Orleans to see the tape to see the game that unfolded tonight. You guys saw. All of us saw. That being said, there's obviously a lot of things we've got to work on.

Why do you think you're having so much trouble getting the ball downfield?

Listen, week-by-week it varies, you know. Today we got a little bit more zone coverage, a lot of deep zone coverage. They did a good job.

At 1-3, does the post season remain a realistic goal?

I don't think we discuss the post season at 1-3. Honestly, seriously. I know that each week you all do but I don't think we do. Right now, we're just looking at finding a way to improve. We've got to eliminate the things that keep you from winning. It starts with ball security. It starts with taking it away. Third down. Both sides of the ball. We've got to be able to stop the run when we know they're running the football, too. I think one hidden stat today was our inconsistency running it when we wanted to and their ability to run it when they wanted to.

Is Khiry Robinson playing his way into more playing time?

Well, he's one of our feature backs to begin with. You get in a game like that, it certainly doesn't suit a player like him. He's played himself into playing time. We've just got to make sure we're in position to hand him the ball but he's played well. That was the last part of last season and the  early part of this year.

Drew Brees, Quarterback

 "The first possession, we marched it to the 50 and then punted them down there. We kind of flipped the field as far as field position goes. Our second drive took us down into the red zone, obviously we attempted the field goal and missed it unfortunately. Then our next possession didn't take place until 5 minutes left in the second quarter. I think that's when, you talk about momentum shifts and especially the fact they are magnified on the road, we unfortunately have the turnover there. They end up scoring two touchdowns in the last 4 minutes of the 2nd quarter. So all of a sudden, instead of going into halftime 10-0 or even if we can march down and at least get some points then momentum is our side coming back out the second half when we'll have the ball first. So, obviously that was a big turning point in the game."

"To still just fight back, I look at that second half. We were down 24-0, but there was really no panic and with six minutes left in the game, it's a two possession game. It's 31-17, we fumbled it down inside the 20 yard line at one point as well. So, we had our chances in the second half. At the end of the day, when you look at this entire game we got beat. We got beat in every facet of it. That's the disappointing part because when you look back on it I think we all offensively would say that would should have run better, we could have been more effective with some of our pass game opportunities for big plays, of course the turnovers, the two fumbles and the interception, those hurt. So, we've got to play better."

"When you look at the final score, you see 38-17. So man, they didn't have a shot. But, like I said, despite the 24-0 deficit coming out in the second half, we still thought like this was something within our grasp, something that we could accomplish. Again, at one point, it's a two possession game and we've gone and scored on two consecutive drives. It was there for us to take. We can go down, make it a one possession game and that completely shifts the pressure to them and gives us all the momentum. Who knows what happens after that. Offensively, we've got to put (Dallas) in that position. We've got to put pressure on them. We've got to go down and score."

"It was well within hand until five  minutes left in the second quarter. It's a game of momentum and when you're on the road, it's even moreso as far as the home team feeling that surge from the crowd or whatever when something good happens for them. They get the interception, which shouldn't happen. The guy hand on it, tipped it up and made a really nice play. But for me, that can't happen in that situation. I've got to find a way to get a completion, continue the drive and make sure we go out on our terms in the second quarter, which would hopefully be us going down and getting points. Then, coming into halftime 10-3 or 10-7. That's a much different picture than 24-0."

On the road struggles: "Well, we're not scoring enough. We're not holding them to enough. We're turning the ball over, not getting any turn overs. Those are the biggest reasons why. So for us offensively, what do we need to do? Well, we need to be ultra efficient, score more points and take care of the football."

Benjamin Watson, Tight End

"It's about the preparation. You can't come on Sunday with poor preparation. Even sometimes with good preparation, you get beat. But tonight, the Cowboys were just better."

"I would say if you look at it statistically, offense, defense, special teams, we probably didn't win any of them. Usually in order to win in this league, you have to win two out of the three. When you don't win any of them, it's impossible to win. So, there's enough improvement to go around for everybody."

"I thought we had good energy coming out, but once the game started obviously, they were executing better. I don't think it was a matter of energy. I think it was a matter of execution. You can win games with low energy if you execute. You can lose games with high energy if you don't execute. I think it was a matter of execution tonight."

Bryce Harris, Offensive Line

"I'm able to play both sides if something happens like that… It's a tough deal when you're not getting the starting reps in practice or not seeing the defenses all the time. It's harder that way. But I felt prepared. I just need to play better."

"We turned it on. We got in a groove, which was good. Defense got in a groove. Offense got in a groove. We needed to capitalize when the defense got that big stop. We three and outted. We've got to capitalize on that and feed off the momentum."

"I'm the back up, so naturally I have to prepare for both positions against both guys…That's pretty much my whole job."

 
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