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Saints fans make impact, but Sean Payton demands more

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton wasn’t about to let up after one big performance.

On the fans.

Payton was surprisingly dismissive when asked for his reaction to the crowd noise inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after the Saints’ 44-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.

“I thought it was good. I’ll be honest with you, I think it’s been a lot better,” Payton said. “And we’ll continue to work on challenging them and getting them fired up. But I thought it was decent.”

Ironically, Payton wound up holding Saints fans to the same standard to which many of them have been holding quarterback Drew Brees this year. Very good is no longer acceptable since they’ve set such a high bar for themselves over the years.

So maybe this wasn’t an all-time great performance for the home fans (that’s a hard list to crack) -- and I’ll defer to Payton, whose attention to detail is probably more intense than my own. But I certainly noted several times in the first half when the Dome crowd lived up to its reputation. And the crowd noise clearly had an impact on the field.

During the first half alone, Green Bay drew a delay-of-game penalty, a false-start penalty and had to burn two timeouts. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked once after feverishly trying to signal for a receiver to change his alignment before the ball had to be snapped at the last second.

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham brought up the crowd when asked about the Saints’ uncanny dominance in home prime-time games (14 straight wins, including the playoffs).

“We really pride ourselves on these big games. But more than that, this city, what they do for prime-time games is special,” said Graham who noted that he lives a couple of blocks away from the Dome and noticed how even on a pre-Halloween weekend, the city was still draped in black and gold.

“Even black and gold clowns. Our city is all in, and that’s so big for us,” Graham said. “To be here at home and have them screaming, as you can tell with the defense, they really caused a lot of mishaps.”

Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks also noted that his first prime-time game in the Dome lived up to its reputation.

“It was something different,” Cooks said. “To get a firsthand experience of what they say the Superdome can be on a Sunday night was just special.”