It's time to move on to phase two of the grieving process. To help us all move on to the acceptance phase, I give to you a large collection of quotes regarding the Saints loss to the Redskins on Sunday.
"We felt pretty good about who was running it," Payton said. "We just need to do a better job of blocking. I think it starts with being physical, and I don't think we were the most physical team yesterday. When you're rushing the ball well, generally you're getting off on the line of scrimmage and you're playing with an attitude.
"We got beat there a number of times on the backside and didn't finish runs and really made it difficult for the backs to have any kind of consistency, so we have to get that corrected."
"The sooner we can have (McKenzie) on the field and get him to where he's 100 percent again, the better off we're going to be," Payton said. "He had a really good year for us a year ago."
"Regardless of where Aaron is, I think Mike is getting close," Payton said. "I talked to him last week and even yesterday at the game about being closer to getting him going. He's done a good job of trying to evaluate himself during the practice week and knowing where his weaknesses are right now health-wise. He's full go, but what are his limitations?"
"Deuce is making progress," Payton said. "I've been encouraged with what I've seen. It's just getting to where you feel like he's clearly further along than he was at the start of training camp.
"I think you just have to trust your gut. What I have to do is to make the decision with the best interest of the team in mind, and sometimes that's hard. I think (McAllister and McKenzie) have had outstanding rehabs. Coming off the injuries that they've had, it has gone fairly well. It's coming, sooner rather than later."
"I'm not even going to try to decipher it at this point, and I don't want you to try to decipher it either," McAllister said. "I'll go out there and prepare to be the starter against Denver, and if I don't play then I don't play. It's not something that I'm going to fuss and whine about it. Whatever my role is, that's what I'm going to go and do."
"I can sense he's a little frustrated," Mike Karney said. "He's not going to tell you what he's really thinking. He's not going to show his cards. I would think he would be frustrated, though, because he's worked his ass off. He's done everything they've asked him to do, lose weight, rehab his ass off. He's in great shape. So, yeah, I would think he would be a little frustrated."
"When and if we get to that point -- and I think it's coming sooner rather than later -- then certainly the question is how much does Deuce affect Pierre's role," Payton said. "It's getting to the point where (Deuce) is feeling more and more confident."
"I'm not the 2001, 2002 type of back that I was, but there are still some things that I can go out there and do to help this team win," he said.
"When you go back and look at it, I didn't get any of those looks in practice," McAllister said. "I didn't get any of that type of work in practice. It would have been unfair to put me into that situation. You can go back and look at the history of it.
"But for that week, even the touchdown that Pierre scored, I didn't get any of that work. If it was, it was in walkthrough. Even at that time, yeah I want to be in there but I would have probably been doing myself an injustice as well as the team knowing that I hadn't seen that look and I hadn't seen that play."
"As far as what I'll prepare to do, I'll prepare to go out there and be the starter against Denver," he said. "That's how I have to prepare myself. If I don't play, then it's not something that I'm going to fuss or whine about. You look at what's going on in Kansas City. That's not good for (Larry Johnson) or the team. That's not something I'm looking to do here. Whatever my role is, that's what I'm going to do."
"Make plays," McAllister said. "Make plays whenever I'm called upon. My time, it's coming. We don't know when it is, but it's coming."
"The key is the time in which you distance yourself from the injury," Payton said. "It's certainly easier in training camp or in preseason when you're going live. This past week, for instance, our pads were off Thursday and Friday, so I'm not going to learn anything more about an injured player who's getting close to playing on Thursday or Friday. Wednesday for us is usually a little more physical. Deuce is making progress, though."
"They're a pretty good run team," defensive end Will Smith said of the Redskins. "For the most part, I thought we were pretty good against the run -- but like always, you're going to have a couple of plays here and there.
"We knew we were playing against one of the best run-block teams in the league in the Redskins, and they have a terrific back in Clinton Portis (21 carries on 96 yards with two touchdowns), so we knew what they could bring to the table. We didn't take them lightly.
"Could we have played better? Absolutely. But looking back on it, that's not the reason we lost the game."
"We've done a lot to focus on the Broncos' style of offense, because they have a unique style of offense, a unique running game," Smith said. "We focused a lot on that this offseason, in training camp. We feel well-prepared for it.
"Obviously, we have to clean up a couple of things. We can't have the same thing that happened last week, happen this week. We know going into this game it's going to be a challenge more than any other week going into the game, because they have the ability, the technique that they have, they always have 1,000-yard running backs. Their running game is the key point of their offense. That's going to be something that we need to stop in order to have a chance to be successful against them."
"I didn't think we were the most physical team, and that concerns me some," Payton said. "I think we can be more physical. It was really as the game wore on (that Washington's running game became more effective) and that was disappointing."
"It's a staple, something we work on every day," he said. "It just takes execution. You just have to run through the linebacker.
"That's the one that hurt most," Stinchcomb said looking back on the foiled play. "We made a number of mistakes in the game, but that one hurt. We have to get that corrected. It's frustrating not getting that first down."
-Jon Stinchcomb, on the failed 3rd and 1 conversion in the 4th quarter
"It's about finishing," Stinchcomb said. "When you have third-and-1 with four minutes left and we call a play, we have to convert. It's all about finishing."
"There's really not much to say," said left tackle Jammal Brown. "We should have gotten it. That's just a bad deal, I guess."
"You have to give them credit," said Brees. "They had a good plan defensively, but when you talk to everybody in the locker room a lot of that was us just not executing the way we know how. That's all there is to it."
"We had a play called, but we just didn't execute it well," right guard Jahri Evans said. "We just didn't execute it well, and that's the bottom line. We got to get it done in that situation and get that key first down and keep it going."
"I practiced (at strongside linebacker) enough, enough to be able to play well," said Dunbar, who was promoted from the practice squad just before the season opener against Tampa Bay. "I came in after practice a couple times and met with Joe Vitt and just went over plays. Coach Vitt really prepared me to play this game.
"It was great being out there. It probably was one of the most exciting days of my life. I always dreamed about playing in the NFL. To actually be out there and making plays and running around is one of the best things to ever happen to me."
"I didn't think we were the most physical team yesterday and that concerns me some. When you watch the film from the end zone copy, I thought they played more physically than we did and when you start looking at the numbers, I think it indicates that, starting with rushing yards."
"If you want to be a good team, when you're in a position to close someone out, you have to be able to finish. That's the disappointing thing, because we had that opportunity and we weren't able to do it. There was a sequence there where Will Smith gets a sack on (Jason) Campbell, we're ahead nine (points) at the start of the fourth quarter. They're 2nd-and-22, backed up on their 5 (yard line) and on the very next play is a long conversion and a long completion to (Chris) Cooley. All of a sudden they're out of that hole at first-and-10."
"I thought the safety (Chris Horton) who played for the first time yesterday, played great watching the film. He's going to play for them for a while. He was active, involved with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and he just seemed to be all over the field."
"We'll have to look at it further. He has a strained ligament in his ankle. We'll probably have more of an update on Wednesday for our injury status with everybody else. In regards to the injuries we'll see how some of these other guys are doing. I think they're coming back pretty well. On Wednesday, we'll announce who participated."
-Sean Payton, on Aaron Glenn
"I'm sure that (the Redskins) felt like they were going to want to make us one-dimensional and make us throw the ball more. Sometimes we need to have a good enough plan put together where we know we're going to get the safety defense when we want to run it and have to not be afraid to throw it more often, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. I think a lot of it depends on down and distance. I'm sure (future teams) will challenge us to see if we can throw it without Marques."
"We didn't play well enough to win the game," said Payton, hours after it was announced he had received a contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2012. "We were fortunate, I thought, to be ahead at the half. And also I thought we were fortunate to go up by nine in the fourth quarter. And that teased us a little bit."
"It's so disappointing to end a game like that," Brees said. "I'd rather them stop us on fourth down than something like that happening, because you just, there's no doubt in my mind we were going to go down and score a touchdown and win this game."
"I don't really feel like we've been in a rhythm yet this season, these first two games," Brees said. "So we've got a lot of work to do offensively."
"It's a staple in our offense," Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said about the play for Thomas. "It's something that we run every game."
"It was a bunch of technical things," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said of the Saints' defensive problems. "Missed tackles here, bad reads there. It makes for a bad game."
"I didn't think we were very consistent at all on offense," Payton said. "Defensively, we played well at times but then in the end, they had 455 yards. And that's not going to be good enough for us."
"When you look at it, despite everything that happened in the first three quarters, it was 24-15 our lead going into the fourth quarter and we were coming off a solid drive to start the third quarter, had a big punt return, all the momentum was on our side and I think we all thought that we were going to seal the deal," said quarterback Drew Brees. "We had two opportunities there with third-down conversions that we should make and didn't and gave them the ball back and they turned around and scored after both of those."
"Someone asked yesterday about the decision about running backs," said Payton. "I thought Pierre did a good job. We had a backside safety run through. It's a block we didn't make. Jammal (Brown) was in charge of cutting off that penetration and we didn't get it done. We just finishing watching the last quarter and a half as a team to really grasp what happened in the final 14 minutes, starting with Reggie Bush's punt return for a touchdown and that was one of four or five critical plays with a nine-point lead that was disappointing or tough. In regards of who was running it, we felt pretty good about who was running it. We just need to do a better job of blocking."
"We ended up in the top seven or eight in the league (last year)," the head coach said. "The one thing we came away with last year was that I probably threw it a little too much on third and one. We were pretty good."
"Any time early on in a season when you start playing games that count, you're still trying to find yourselves a little bit," Brees said. "Even though we've been together for the last two years, it's still an adjustment. It's a new year. We just need to get back on track and get back to the point where every time we touch the ball we have that confidence level that we're going to go right down the field and score. But certainly just mixing it up and being able to get in a rhythm and feel like we're ourselves."
"You never want to be one-dimensional," he said. "I think we all have the confidence in here to know that if we're forced to throw the ball, we're going to do it effectively and we're going to win. But certainly the pass should complement the run and the run should complement the pass. The better you are at both of them, the more efficient you'll be as an offense. We pride ourselves on being balanced. We have some very good running backs and some very good receivers and tight ends to where we want to spread the ball around, we want to mix it up, we want to keep defenses off-balance. We want to set the tone for the game and keep them on their heels. Unfortunately, I don't feel like we've hit our stride yet. I don't feel like we've gotten into a rhythm yet."
"If you want to be a good team, when you're in a position to close someone out, you have to be able to finish," Payton said. "That's the disappointing thing, because we had that opportunity and we weren't able to do it."
"There was a sequence there where Will Smith gets a sack on (Jason) Campbell, we're ahead nine at the start of the fourth quarter. They're 2nd-and-22 backed up on their own five and on the very next play is a long conversion and a long completion to (Chris) Cooley. All of a sudden they're out of that hole at 1st-and-10. Those are huge plays. It's not any one specific player that we were looking to call out during that film session, but it was really merely a way for us to say that we have a team down nine with a quarter of football left, this is what happened and this is what really didn't happen. We weren't able to move the ball and keep our defense off the field at the time when we needed one more drive, all of a sudden that momentum, if you study the course of the game, it shifted on that 2nd-and-22 with the completion to Cooley and another completion, all of a sudden that drive was ongoing and eventually led to a play for a touchdown. We couldn't catch it back and offensively; we had another opportunity at 3rd-and-5 to convert. We were unable to do that. It got away from us. Those are the things we're doing right now, correcting it."
"They're a good team," Payton stated. "The main focus is the Saints right now - and that seems a little bit like a cliché - but we're going to play a better team this week than we just played. They're 2-0 and it's a tough place to play; it's a louder environment than where we were just at. We're going to have to suck it up."
"That gave us the lead at 24-15, and it wasn't even the fourth quarter yet," he said. "I felt we were just going to explode in the second half, coming right out of the gate and scoring a touchdown.
"We were moving the ball down the field and then we get a punt return. At this point, we're feeling pretty good and feel like we've got more left in us."
"It was zone coverage and there was zone pressure," Payton said. "Campbell was able to climb up the pocket and extend the play a little longer than we wanted. Santana got behind Porter and it wound up being a big play."
"(Moss) was closing on me, and I didn't turn and run at the right point," Porter said. "The quarterback made a great read, a great throw, a great play."
"I didn't feel like we were able to get anything going (on third down)," Payton said after his team was 3-of-10 in those situations. "Even when it came to that third-and-1, and we can't get one yard, it was a pivotal play in the game. That was a disappointing down for us."
"We felt pretty good about the play call and what we wanted to run," Payton said. "We let someone from the back side penetrate, and he made the play."
"Turnovers and rushing yardage told the tale today," Saints Coach Sean Payton said.
"That's important, especially on a hot day like today," Brees said. "Guys were cramping up, and without a lot of depth (on defense), we didn't sustain drives and play that complementary game that we talk about."
"The punt return was a big play for us and it's a shame that that didn't lead to a win," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "But at that point in the game you felt that momentum on our side."
"Any time the ball's in his hands it's exciting to watch him," Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey said. "I know the defense must hate it because he's such a playmaker. He really gave us a chance to win the game this week and I think other people have to step up."
"They did a good job defensively, Greg Blache and their staff, of really containing him and taking away some of the things that we wanted to do," Payton said.
"It was a short kick, it wasn't that great of a kick by the punter, and I ran up on it, caught it and just tried to set it up to where I could get back around the wall," Bush said. "And we did, and it was a huge play for us at the time."
"I knew at the time, after I did it, I shouldn't have done that," Bush said. "But sometimes you get caught up in the hype of a big play and you just really got to focus and not make those mistakes."
- Reggie Bush
"We've got to make more plays down the stretch, and I feel like maybe we went into our prevent offense when we could have been attacking more, maybe," Bush said. "But you can sit up here and make a million excuses why we didn't win the game. The fact of the matter is we didn't win the game, and that's why we're sitting here with a loss."
"I don't really know how to act, but I am very excited," Zorn said of his first NFL win. "I wish I could enjoy it as much as I had to endure last week for four or five days, but I won't be able to."
"We talked a lot during the week," Campbell said. "I said 'Coach, just trust me.' And he said, 'I've got to trust you more.' We do it together."
"I'm patting myself on the back, but really it's all bogus," Zorn said. "He had to make the play. He made the call, he made the play, he made the move. That truly is it."
"A real gutsy call," guard Pete Kendall said. "I didn't know if we'd pooch punt or if we'd attempt a field goal... . When I heard the play call come in, I thought, 'This could be really good, if it works out particularly, because it shows a lot of confidence in the quarterback."'
-Pete Kendall, on the 4th down/4th quarter play
"I want him to improve and I know he wants to improve," Zorn said. "I know [special teams coach] Danny [Smith] wants him to improve, and we're expecting him to improve."
-Jim Zorn, on punter Durant Brooks
"Making Reggie Bush go sideways was one of the key issues for us in the game," Zorn said. "And we did."
"I don't know if [Horton] is ready yet to step in there every week and say he's a starter," Zorn said. "Reed Doughty is a guy that can get people lined up. There will be much more complicates situations that [Horton] would have to perform in to say that he is going to be the starter. But he certainly helped us have confidence in putting him in situations."
"I was really frustrated when I saw that," Zorn said. "Porter has great speed. It was just fortunate the play was successful."
-Jim Zorn, on the Moss TD in the 4th quarter that was meant to exploit Usama Young not Tracy Porter
"We left some things on the field that I was hot about, and he knows it because I was jumping up and down," Zorn said. "I was telling him the reason I was jumping up and down — I was trying to get to his eye level so I could actually look him in the eye."
"You kind of wonder, especially with the way the last of the preseason went and the first game, 'Gosh, can we really win?' " Zorn said Monday. "And we did. We can really do it."
"I'm saying, 'What are we doing?' " Zorn said. "I'm saying, 'This is not it!' 'What did he call?' I'm mashing the button, going 'What did you call?' but they cut you off after 15 seconds."
-Jim Zorn, on the 3rd and 22 completion to Cooley
"I think that was the biggest play in the game," Campbell said.
"That was all Jason Campbell. I had nothing to do with that play."
"A game like we had today, what we did, it could do wonders for this team," Moss said. "It could do wonders for Jason."
"I think we've all said what we think of Jason as a player and the talent we think he has,""It was just one game [against the Giants]. It wasn't like it was the whole season. I think we all expected Jason to come back and just move forward."
"It was a tough day" for special teams, Brooks said. "I know I had a disappointing day. Definitely, by far, it was disappointing."
"That could have been the play of the game right there," Campbell said. "That's just what Chris Cooley does."
"Thankfully, we have a coach like Coach Z," Moss said. "He was aggressive. He said, 'Hey, you're not expecting this. Then you better expect this.' "
"Man, that [defensive] lineman came through the line," Sellers said, shaking his head. "All of a sudden, I saw a flash, so I just tried to get on him as soon as possible, and Jason got it off. If I don't get him, it's over, but Jason stepped up and made a great play."
-Mike Sellers, on Kendrick Clancy
"I ain't lying, I was nervous,"
"Man, this guy wasn't nervous," insisted free safety LaRon Landry, another Louisiana product who had worked out with Horton in high school. "The only thing we were saying was, 'Man, it's a different kind of game out there now. You know, you're starting and everything gonna happen fast.' . . . And he was like, 'Man, I've got this. I've got this.' When a guy tell you that, you know he's ready."
"He was like, 'Hey, I need a hat trick,' " Horton recalled. "And I looked at him like, 'What?' . . . I've never heard of that before. He explained it. It's like in hockey. I guess it's three goals or something like that."
"And man, in the right spot at the right time again,"
"It could get better, obviously," he said. "I feel like on special teams I left some plays out on the field. I just try to be perfect every time."