Preseason: 14 | Last Week: 2 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The New Orleans Saints suffered their first loss of the season Sunday. But it was a "quality loss." As heartbreaking as it was for them to fall 30-27 to the New England Patriots in the final seconds, there's no shame in dropping a close game on the road against such a formidable opponent. And in fact, the Saints (5-1) showed impressive resilience to bounce back after a sluggish start had them trailing 17-7 at halftime.
It wasn't the prettiest performance by the Saints, with quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Marques Colston all having off days and the defense allowing a season-high 30 points. But Brees, the defense -- and even the Saints' running game -- stepped up big for most of the second half.
Most importantly, none of the Saints' confidence will be shaken. If anything, that first loss might make them even a little "saltier," as Brees might say. They now head into their bye week at a good time, with the chance to get Graham and a handful of other key players healed up for the final 10-week stretch.