METAIRIE, La. -- One of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton’s favorite messages to his team is that every week is going to be treated from the outside as either a “crisis or a carnival.” But the team can’t overreact either way after a win or a loss.
Sure enough, that came up several times on Sunday and Monday after the Saints’ 26-20 loss to the New York Jets. And Saints players all vowed they will get back to work and be prepared to host the Dallas Cowboys this coming Sunday night.
“We’re fortunate the team was built with character in mind for situations like this -- when people will start looking for the issue, the panic,” offensive tackle Zach Strief said after the game. “They always say there’s crisis or carnival. This is a great time for crisis. We’ve lost the last two on the road, and can we win on the road? That’ll be a big deal. And yet, I think the locker room is built to get better in these situations. To look in the mirror and say, ‘We have to improve. We’ve got to get better and not point fingers and look for reasons outside of that.’”
The Saints have historically done a great job of bouncing back from losses. They haven’t lost back-to-back games under Payton since the end of the 2009 season (though they did suffer two losing streaks last year during Payton’s season-long suspension).
New Orleans (6-2) is still leading the NFC South. But its big lead from a month ago has evaporated to one game, with the Carolina Panthers (5-3) on a recent roll.
Linebacker Curtis Lofton said the Saints aren’t paying any attention to what the Panthers or any other teams are doing at this point, though.
“We care about what we can control, and that’s how we play,” Lofton said. “If we go out and take care of business, we don’t have to worry about any other team. November and December is the time where the real teams start to separate themselves. The great teams separate themselves from the good teams. We know that, and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We’ve just got to get back and work hard, continue to do what we’ve been doing. The team, we’re not down. We know what kind of players we have in this locker room and what kind of coaches we have. When we do play efficient football and execute, there’s not too many teams that can play with us.”