METAIRIE, La. -- Drew Brees trotted out a phrase Wednesday that he has used a couple times this season: “Typically we say the most desperate team wins.”
But it remains to be seen if that will be the New Orleans Saints (4-6) or the Los Angeles Rams (4-6) on Sunday. Both of them rate awfully high on the desperation meter right now after some crushing losses in recent weeks. The Saints lost two games in five days by a total of five points, and the Rams blew a 10-0 lead in the final five minutes in Week 11.
The Saints have now lost five games by less than a touchdown this season, some of them courtesy of some spectacular special-teams gaffes. But when Brees was asked if he reflects on those close losses and thinks, “We should be in a better spot,” he said:
“Yeah, but we’re not. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
“So much of this game is, ‘Don’t do what human nature tells you to do,’” Brees said. “When you win, human nature tells you to relax. You can’t relax. When you lose, human nature tells you to overreact. Well, we’re not gonna overreact.
“We’re still gonna play confident and aggressive as ever, but we also understand what it takes to win.”
New Orleans safety Kenny Vaccaro was the first to mention that word, “desperate,” on Wednesday when asked how the Saints can try to pull themselves out of a pretty bleak situation.
Two weeks ago, the Saints lost 25-23 to the Denver Broncos when they saw an extra point blocked and returned for a two-point conversion in the final minutes. In Week 11, they lost 23-20 at the Carolina Panthers, thanks in part to another blocked kick.
The Saints’ defense has actually shown great improvement for the past month or two, but the offense and special teams have suddenly been letting them down. Brees and the offense have turned the ball over six times in two games.
“You just gotta be a desperate team. You gotta win. Our mentality has gotta be ‘win out,’" Vaccaro said. “And we still believe. We know what we have here in this locker room. We understand we have to be better on both sides of the ball and special teams. And we can get it done. I mean, it’s been done before ...
“We know every situation, every play, every moment, every snap, every quarter is a must-win situation. You understand that play in and play out. Because any given play can lose us the game.
“We’ve proven that a couple times.”
Brees is leading the NFL in yards per game (328), touchdowns (26) and completion percentage (71.0). And he has been even more potent at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints’ offense overall is No. 1 in the NFL in yards per game (422).
But Brees also threw a total of three interceptions and lost a fumble over the past two weeks. So even he isn’t immune to the kind of self-sabotage the Saints have experienced after rallying from an 0-3 start to reach 4-4.
“We’re hitting that stretch in the season where every game means so much, and it’s so important,” Brees said. “And we know the formula for winning. We’ve enjoyed that at times this year, during our four-out-of-five [wins] stretch.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had those stretches where it’s been one play here, one play there or just some really costly mistakes that we know better. We know better. We continue to emphasize getting rid of those mistakes. Mistakes are gonna be made, but understand the ones that are the ones that are going to get you beat. Avoid those and focus on all of the positive things that we can do, because certainly we’re capable of a lot.”