The Saints ended up on the losing end of the upset of the week, and Sean Payton might have seen it coming.
Payton spoke on the loss with NFL Network’s Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche on the latest episode of the Huddle & Flow Podcast — which will be available Tuesday — acknowledging his team’s recent run of success might have set them up for the 24-21 loss Sunday in Philadelphia.
“When you start winning, three in a row, six in a row, eight, 10 in a row, nine in a row, it’s pretty normal to be the head coach and look at each week and be like, man, this better not be that game,” Payton said. “It took us until the second half until we got at least a sense of urgency. Look, it wasn’t enough. That’s on me.
“It’s always hard when it’s on you because it just sits in your gut where there are certain signs during the week. And I told them after the game, I said, ‘Look, we can lose this one game and it counts as one loss. But if we don’t learn from just a handful of mistakes made in this game, then it will hurt us in a bigger game, a game that’s not even scheduled yet.'”
The mistakes were plenty. Taysom Hill struggled to protect the football, throwing an interception and losing a fumble, and Philadelphia shredded the Saints’ usually stout defense on the ground, rushing for 221 yards between running back Miles Sanders (14 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns) and rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts (18 carries for 106 yards). It was the first time New Orleans had allowed a single rusher to break 100 yards in 50 games, and the Eagles’ first instance of having two 100-plus-yard rushers in a single game since Week 16 of 2013, per NFL Research.
Hurts also became the second rookie quarterback to rush for 100-plus yards in his first start since 1950, joining Lamar Jackson in elite company.
To put it simply, it was a day to forget for the Saints. Payton doesn’t want his team to forget Sunday’s defeat, but to learn from the many mistakes made by New Orleans in order to prevent them from happening again, when the games become much more important.
“It showed up in all three areas. By no stretch of the imagination there was anything really positive about it,” Payton explained. “When you look back at the film, there were too many mistakes. We have trouble throwing just a simple screen pass right now.
“This next week will be a good, tough week of the fundamentals. It can happen. You can play and play and win and win, and you’re hoping you’re making the corrections as you go, but too many things yesterday that were troublesome when you watch the film.”
The film might look better in the weeks ahead, as the Saints could get Drew Brees back after missing the last month with rib and lung injuries. Brees’ return isn’t guaranteed for Week 15, but it should still be right around the corner.
“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to the docs yet,” Payton said of Brees’ status. “This would be a goal week for him, realistically. And yet I know last week he was still having significant pain.”
We’ll learn later in the week whether Brees’ pain has subsided enough for him to rejoin his teammates on the field. The Saints will need him and a cleaner game in order to start a new winning streak with the postseason less than a month away.
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