METAIRIE, La. -- Although the New Orleans Saints' 17-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night wasn’t their prettiest of the season, coach Sean Payton certainly didn’t have any complaints on Friday.
Earlier this year, Payton sent a message to his team that they made too many unacceptable mistakes even in a 35-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills. But there was no such message after this game -- which amounted to the Saints winning a battle of attrition on a short week, on the road against a division rival that always plays them tough.
“I didn’t think there were a lot of things I didn’t like. I wouldn’t say that at all,” Payton said.
The Saints won the turnover battle 1-0, committed five penalties (not great, not terrible) and almost ran out the clock to the final buzzer with two late first downs.
When asked if he learned anything new about his team in the process, Payton said, “I think we’ve gotten a little bit better defending the run and a little bit better running the football. … I think we’ve been able to see that. I think we’ll see some real good opponents coming up, starting with Seattle. I think from that standpoint, I’m encouraged.”
The Saints’ biggest test to date will come next -- a Monday night game at the Seattle Seahawks, who lead the NFC with a 10-1 record and feature one of the loudest home crowds in the NFL. Fortunately the Saints have extra time to rest up, with 11 days between games. Players will be off until Tuesday, when they hold a bonus practice. The regular weekly schedule and media access won’t begin until next Thursday. The Seahawks also have plenty of time to rest up, since they’re on a bye this week.
"We’ll try to use it as wisely as we can," Payton said. "We know we’re playing an outstanding team that is playing at a high level in every phase of the game when you look at them. It will be a big test for us. The big thing is for us to get rested and begin the film preparation."