Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Saints

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 38-17 loss Sunday night to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

What it means: Nothing good.

The Saints are now 1-3, but this loss was much more disturbing than the first two. This one didn't come down to the final seconds. This one was an implosion -- on both sides of the ball. You name it -- it went wrong, from getting blown up on both lines to missing tackles to dropped passes to turnovers to coaching, etc., etc. All this in a game in which the Saints were supposed to finally be getting on a roll after "breaking the seal" this past week, as Drew Brees put it.

Of course, it's not over for the Saints -- especially in an uninspiring NFC South division in which the leaders sit at 2-2. The Saints have seven home games left. It would be foolish to give up on this offense that has such a proven track record.

But the defense has become a serious concern at this point, when it was supposed to be a strength. And this was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, not a team hoping to scratch together 10 wins.

Stock watch: After taking one step forward this past week, the Saints' defense stumbled two giant steps back. It was reminiscent of Week 1 in that they made sure Dallas' biggest threat, Dez Bryant, didn't beat them deep. But they failed to do anything well underneath. The pass rush was virtually nonexistent. They once again forced zero turnovers (15 quarters and counting). And the Saints were once again plagued by missed tackles, as running back DeMarco Murray kept gaining steam as the game went on.

Deep trouble: The Saints' lack of deep passes wasn't a huge concern before Sunday night because they had been making teams pay with underneath throws and a solid run game. But it was disconcerting to see the Saints couldn't count on the deep ball when it was sorely needed Sunday, while the underneath stuff wasn't getting the job done, either. The Saints showed glimpses of it during a late rally -- but not nearly enough.

Even punter Thomas Morstead couldn't find anyone open on an ill-fated (and ill-advised) fake punt attempt in the fourth quarter.

Game ball: Brees. In a game in which no one really deserved it, Brees gets the nod for catching fire briefly during a late rally. He finished with 340 yards and two touchdowns -- but his first-half interception was a dagger when the Saints were falling behind 31-3.

What's next: The Saints, at least, have a great opportunity to reboot over the next two weeks. They get the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home next Sunday (a must-win if ever there was one). Then they get a bye week.