Yesterday, although playing better than they have all season, the New Orleans Saints came up short in just about every facet of the game with the Green Bay Packers: offense, defense, special teams, and coaching, while also coming up short in the most important category, the final score, 27-28.
The team now sits at 0-4, after having found yet another way to lose (dropping a third-down pass, committing holding on a made FG, missing a slightly longer FG attempt, failing to make a stop on third down - you name it, and if they didn't do it yesterday, then I bet they did it earlier in the season).
Next up is a Sunday Night is Football Night in America Night home matchup against the San Diego Chargers.
But first, we must parse out this loss and see what we can glean from it for the Saints to keep getting better.
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New Orleans Saints 27, Green Bay Packers 28 | ESPN.com
ESPN GAMEHQ: Includes recap, box score, play-by-play, drive charts, photos and highlights.
New Orleans Saints 27, Green Bay Packers 28 | nfl.com
Game Center - Includes official NFL game book, statistics, drive chart, and video highlights.
Saints Fall to Packers in Dramatic Showdown at Lambeau Field, 28-27 | neworleanssaints.com
QB Drew Brees tosses for 446 yards and three touchdowns in loss.
New Orleans Saints Postgame Notes | neworleanssaints.com
QB Drew Brees tied Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
New Orleans Saints-Green Bay Packers: Stats that stand out | NOLA.com
Doug Tatum - The New Orleans Saints lost a 28-27 heart-breaker to the Green Bay Packers to drop to 0-4, their worst start to a season since 2007.
Photo Gallery: Saints 27, Packers 28 | NOLA.com
Saints at Packers - Photo Gallery | neworleanssaints.com
Michael C. Hebert
From the Saints Sideline
Quick Take: Saints good but not good enough to beat Packers | sportsnola.com
Jude Young - The Saints go home winless after four games with a heart-breaking 28-27 loss on Sunday afternoon.
These are your true 2012 New Orleans Saints -- and they look a lot like 2008 Saints: First take | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Saints still have a great quarterback and passing attack...but not much else they can rely on.
New Orleans Saints defense still experiencing growing pains: 10 observations | NOLA.com
Saints columnist Mike Triplett offers 10 more observations following Saints' 28-27 loss to Green Bay Packers.
New Orleans Saints season starting to slip away after 28-27 loss to Green Bay Packers | NOLA.com
Larry Holder - New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton may have not been with the team during the past three seasons of double-digit wins and Super Bowl spoils.
Packers deal Saints another heartbreaking loss | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Their backs against the wall, the Saints finally showed signs of life. Yet, it wasn’t enough.
New Orleans Saints' ugly season starting to conjure bad memories | NOLA.com
Jeff Duncan - Only once in the past 12 years have the Saints failed to win at least seven games in a season.
Saints turn corner against Packers, but it may be too little, too late | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - It would be easy to write off the Saints. For three weeks, the team was horrible and, with only one team making the playoffs since 1990 after an 0-4 start, it would make sense.
Saints Had This Game On A Silver Platter - WWL | AM870 | FM105.3
Here's what Bobby Hebert had to say following the Saints loss to Green Bay.
This One Hurts, And Hurts Bad - WWL | AM870 | FM105.3
Deke Bellavia - What was supposed to be the Saints’ first loss of the 2012 season turned out to be the Saints fourth loss. But unlike the previous three losses, this one could have a lasting effect.
Saints Drop Heartbreaker to Packers 27-28 | thesaintsnation.com
Andrew Juge - I never thought I'd be saying this but the Saints are now 0-4 with no end in sight to this slide.
"De hairball say…" | Who Dat Social Club
Himself - There is one thing to be said for being a Saints fan (and only one): it makes you clairvoyant. Even if all you can predict is disaster.
Drew Brees ties Johnny Unitas for NFL consecutive TD pass record | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - Drew Brees continued to write his name in the NFL record books.
New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Morgan finally provides big play | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - Receiver Joe Morgan, who was expected to provide a big-play threat to the Saints offense, hadn't contributed much until Sunday.
New Orleans Saints fail to get running game going against Packers | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - For the third time in four games, the Saints failed to get their running game going. The Saints managed only 45 yards on 19 carries, an average of just 2.4 yards per attempt.
Wrap-up: Packers 28, Saints 27 - NFC South Blog | ESPN.com
Pat Y. - Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints’ 28-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Big plays by Rodgers, Jones help Packers survive | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Tyler Dunne - Two preseason contenders desperate for a win took the field Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Packers rally for thrilling, 28-27 win | Green Bay Packers Official Blog
Vic Ketchman - The Packers exorcised their demons with a gritty, come-from-behind, 28-27 win over the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
Rodgers might have saved the season | packers.com
Vic Ketchman - Don’t kid yourself, their season was on the line.
Rapid Reaction: Packers 28, Saints 27 - NFC North Blog | ESPN.com
Kevin Seifert - A quick look at Sunday's events at Lambeau Field.
Thomas' revenge on Charles Woodson? - NFC North Blog | ESPN.com
Kevin Seifert - The Saints player whom Woodson punched in last season's matchup between the teams exacted some revenge with six minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the game.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
INTERIM HEAD COACH AARON KROMER:
(on the outcome of the game) "Obviously I thought we had a chance to win the game, but we didn't make some plays at the end of the game that we needed to make. We looked like the Saints again. Obviously our running game needs to be better. Drew (Brees) had the hot hand and sprinkle some runs in and it was working."
(on the four drops in the game) "I thought today the passing game was good. Protection was very good. The one time Drew did get hit it was a sack from Clay Matthews. Threw a lot of completions and we need to catch some of those better."
(on not being able to make the clutch plays right now) "Let me just say this, we were 53, 54 percent on third down, and most teams would beg for that. There were a lot of catches on those third downs that were outstanding today, there are times you're going to drop the ball, and we understand that, but there were a lot of outstanding catches today."
(on the effort of his team today) "You cannot question our effort. It was an all-out effort. We were coming out to play physical, and we did. We just came up short."
(on the feeling inside the locker room after the game) "Disappointment. But I won't let them get disappointed. I'll let them get hurt, it's going to hurt when you lose a game like this, but we are too close. Two games in a row now we are too close to not winning these games. We had an opportunity to win the game at the end and that's what we're looking for."
QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
(on the lack of a running game today) "I thought we moved the ball extremely well, so whether it's through the air or on the ground it doesn't matter. I think offensively if we look at the statistics that are important to a game, we won. Statistically when you look at it you should say that's a win, but unfortunately we didn't do quite enough."
(on if the team is improving) "I feel like this was our best performance of the season. Defense got us two turnovers, and we had zero offensively. Unfortunately when you play a great team like the Packers are, a great team, in their venue, you have to be darn near perfect, and we were almost there but not quite."
(on overcoming the 0-4 start) "I'm not going to keep myself busy saying that. It stinks, obviously, but I know the type of guys we have, I know the direction we're headed, and it's all positive."
(on tying Johnny Unitas with 49 straight games with a touchdown) "Obviously I'd love to be sitting here talking about it after a win, but certainly it's significant to even be in the same realm as Johnny Unitas. His career speaks for itself."
(on playing the San Diego Chargers to potentially break the record against his former team) "I don't make the schedule, but it sure is a funny coincidence, isn't it?"
WIDE RECEIVER MARQUES COLSTON:
(on his touchdown catch) "It is a play that is a staple in our offense. It really wasn't open, but Drew just gave me a chance to go up and get it. He put it in a great spot for me."
(on being in rhythm with QB Drew Brees) "Offensively in general we got into a good rhythm early. This was the first time all year that Drew and I have had it going like that. It is a good step in the right direction."
CORNERBACK JABARI GREER:
(on the loss) "We had a great opportunity to win the game. We didn't make the plays that we needed to make. I didn't make the plays to help the team. There were a lot of things left on the field, but ultimately we fought and never gave up. We have the heart of a team that is progressing, believes in itself and will never quit. I am encouraged by that, very encouraged."
(on the defensive system) "No matter what is called, we have to play and be able to execute. The defense is called to respond no what position we are in in. It is not the system. It is just capitalizing on opportunities when they are presented."
(on WR James Jones' reception to ice the game) "You have to make that play. I pride myself on being able to make that play in big situations. I didn't do it. It hurts. It is something that will motivate me to get better and be the very best I can be. I am never letting that happen."
KICKER GARRETT HARTLEY:
(on his fourth quarter field goal miss) "When the ball came off I knew I hit it well. You want to be in that position. I was walking out there with all the confidence in the world and unfortunately it didn't work out this time."
(on where the Saints go from here) "We know what we have to do. With the type of guys that we have in this locker room, I am definitely looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow."
WIDE RECEIVER JOSEPH MORGAN:
(on his 80-yard touchdown catch) "It was pretty much a go route. I just adjusted to how the defense was. He (CB Sam Shields) squatted on me a little bit, so I just read it accordingly and ran the route the best I could. Drew (Brees) pretty much threw me open. It probably shocked him how open the play was."
(on mounting an offensive comeback) "It was great to get the momentum going because you can build on that. Obviously we didn't finish. We need to keep the momentum and finish with it. That is something we will work on throughout the week and going into the next game."
GREEN BAY PACKERS
HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY:
(opening statement) "I'll first start off with the fact that it was a big win at home against a very good football team. We expected a highly contested game today, two teams coming in here with some extra emotion to add to the football game. I'm very proud of our football team, especially with the week we endured. We talked a lot about integrity and character and I thought today's game had plenty of those types of situations where it showed up big. There was adversity throughout the football game, which there is in every football game. I understand that, but I'm very proud of the way our players responded to the challenge today and responded throughout the game. I thought it was a game where all three phases contributed. I thought special teams did a good job against a dynamic returner in (Darren) Sproles, and the big play with the fake punt to extend the drive that ended in a touchdown for us. I thought our defense was really put in some tough situations. I know they had a lot of yards and production against us, but I thought they stepped up in adverse times. We had some plays that didn't go our way, we just hung in there and battled. Offensively, we probably had two plays we wished we had back, but I thought that was our best performance of the year as far as generating first downs, putting points on the board, playing with the lead and putting the game away in the four-minute [situation]. I'm proud of the victory, but more importantly I'm proud of the character of our locker room. I thought we put that on display today against a team that obviously had their backs against the wall and we knew we were going to get their best effort."
(on the fake punt) "We had a punt earlier where they gave us a look where they played heavy to the protection to the box. Based on that particular down and distance, we were able to take advantage. I'm not going to get into specifics, but it was a well-executed play by our punt team. John Kuhn in third and one or less, that's definitely someone I have a lot of confidence in that situation. Based on the pre-snap, I thought it was going to be an even bigger play. That was a big play in the game. We wanted to create momentum plays early in the game. It was something we talked about as a football team. Get a fast start, get the lead and that was definitely part of it."
(on the performance of WR James Jones) "Very happy with the way James played. James has been very consistent this year and he's clearly off to his most consistent year in his time here, in my opinion. The catch he made to seal the game, that's two plays where we were on the same page. There's no X's and O's gratification in that particular throw and catch. That's a great job. Greg's (Jennings) groin was bothering him so we played it safe. I think it tells you how well our receiving corps works. It's an interchangeable group. It's the only group I've ever had, and it's been like that my entire time here, every receiver plays every position. They're all interchangeable, so you're able to move them all over the place and create opportunities for everybody. It also gives you the flexibility of matchups. James has definitely taken advantage of that with his opportunity. We're very happy with the way he played."
(on if he considered keeping QB Aaron Rodgers in the game after he was poked in the eye) "That was the discussion on the field when Aaron was poked in the eye. He could not refocus with his right eye. With that, the medical staff wanted to get him to the sideline. I don't know if they put the eye drops in, but that was the discussion on the field. That's why we took him out at that point. He wanted to stay in and he was able to stay in because the injury occurred on a penalty. But, we took the high side of caution and unfortunately it resulted in a fumble."
(on scoring touchdowns in the red zone compared with the Saints having to kick field goals) "It's all about touchdowns. We felt coming off of last week's game that our red zone production wasn't where it needed to be. We kicked field goals last week. It's nice as a coaching staff, and even for the players, when we emphasize something throughout the week and it shows up on Sunday. That's what it's all about. We're in the business of winning. We discussed that. We're paid to win games, but as a coaching staff we believe in winning and growing. When you emphasize things throughout the week and spend a little extra time on certain fundamentals or certain situations, it's important for that to show up on Sundays. "
(on how big it was to get a goal line stop of the Saints when they had a first-and-goal on the one-yard line) "Well, it was big. I think the point was made earlier. When you're scoring touchdowns and they're kicking field goals, obviously you've got a chance. That's for sure. We were minus-two in the turnover ratio. We've never won a game in that situation in my time here. That's huge for your football team. That's adversity. That's overcoming negative situations that went on throughout the 60 minutes, and when you're able to overcome that, that is a huge confidence builder for our football team. It's nice when you're out there rolling, you're ahead and everything is going good and hunky dory, but that's a front-runner attitude. We don't work that way, we don't believe that way. There are a lot of good things that come out of this win to overcome that. That minus-two turnover ratio and to win the football game, fumble the ball on the one-yard line, that's big stuff."
QUARTERBACK AARON RODGERS:
(on the last completion to James Jones) "That last play there, you feel great about the opportunity to win it there with a completion. We had a good play call. They brought a little pressure and played man coverage. We liked the matchup with James and he made an incredible catch."
(on the eye injury) "I made just an average stutter-step move there to try and extend the play. As I did, (Malcolm) Jenkins put his hands inside my facemask and I had a hard time there immediately after with the depth perception. I wanted to stay in the game - obviously I don't like coming out for anything - but just didn't have any depth perception immediately thereafter. I figured we were a yard away, that we could punch that thing in there. Unfortunately that didn't happen."
(on the red zone efficiency with 4 TDs) "We talked about that this week, the urgency in two areas, the third downs and red-zone, and we had a chance to be 5-for-5 in the red zone. We were 4-for-5 on touchdowns, which is still good. You never like a turnover down there, but (we had) a good percentage there."
(on if this was a building block win) "I think it's important for us, we overcame some adversity tonight. That's a good football team. They're 0-4, but (they have) a solid offense and a good defense and our defense had been playing so good the first three weeks, it was important for us to put some points on the board. They weren't as sharp as they've been the first three games, so it was nice for us to put some points up for them."
(on overcoming adversity to get this win) "It gives us some confidence. I think 1-3 would have been difficult. We've got a tough schedule coming up, we've got to play some games on the road. We've got to learn to win on the road with this group of guys that we have, (and) 1-3 would have made that very difficult I think. When you start having consecutive losses you can't help but have that feeling of ‘Here we go again,' at times, and unfortunately there was a little bit of that tonight with some of the calls. But we were able to overcome it. I think it says a lot about the character of this team and this was an important win for us."
(on the interception) "It was a very poor throw. They were running two-deep coverage. I was trying to look the safety inside and come outside. He (CB Patrick Robinson) made a nice play on the ball, but it was not a good throw."
(on what he's learned about this team four games in) "We've had to deal with probably more adversity than most of the teams I've played with, especially early on. We've had some interesting games already. We're four games in, so I think the character of this team is very strong. Winning games like this says a lot about the kind of men that we have."
(on the fumble by QB Graham Harrell) "That could happen to anybody, including myself. When you run an outside zone on the goal line there's often penetration. He (Harrell) was trying to make a handoff while falling down, which is something that I've done before. It was just unfortunate that we weren't able to complete that handoff, but he'll be fine."
(on the offensive line play) "They played great. The offensive line took a lot of heat, obviously, for what happened in the first half last week, but counting the last three halves, zero sacks. So we're figuring something out."
(on the Greg Jennings injury) "We'd love to have Greg out there obviously, but in a situation like that, we've had injuries the last two, three years here and the next guy up has got to step up and play well. Randall Cobb had a big night tonight. He played really well, was able to get open a number of times and make the most of his opportunities."
RUNNING BACK CEDRIC BENSON:
(on keeping up with the Saints' offense) "No question, they're an explosive offense. That's a good team over there. It's tough to believe that they're 0-4. That's a very explosive offense, but our defense got the stops for us when we needed them in very crucial moments there at the end of the game."
(on his role in the offense) "I can't express enough how much I yearn for not only the ball, but for guys to be like, ‘We need you right here.' I work for it all week in practice, prepare for it all the time, and look forward to it on Sundays."
(on his progression from week one to now) "Game one I wasn't too sure on all the pass plays. I wasn't too sure on the protections. I wasn't too sure on exactly where the runs out of the shotgun were designed to hit. I wasn't sure of anything. I was out there playing football. Even week two, even week three, I was just out there playing football. But things are starting to really come together now."
WIDE RECEIVER JAMES JONES:
(on the win) "Big win. Our goal coming into this game was to come out 2-2, however we had to get it done. It was a team effort out there today. We made plays when we had to make plays on offense and defense and we came out on top."
(on his final catch of the game) "Thank God; the Lord was with me. I saw the ball thrown inside and I stuck one hand down there. Sometimes you get lucky in football, and that's what that was. I caught it under his elbow on the other side of his body and pulled it in. The biggest thing about it is that it was a first down. We could run the clock out and get out of there with a victory."
(on his personal performance) "We're all about making the most of our opportunities. Aaron (Rodgers) has a lot of weapons. If you ask the receivers everybody is open on every play, but when the ball comes your way just make a play. You never know when you're going to get it - if it's going to come in the first quarter or the fourth quarter. Make the most of your chances, and that's what I did today."
(on his touchdown catch in the first quarter) "Yeah I stole one from (TE Jermichael Finley). The play broke down and Aaron (Rodgers) scrambled. On the scramble, I saw Jermichael inside of me, so I had turned outside and he turned outside with me. I just saw the ball when I looked up and grabbed it from him, so I owe him one. He said he would have done the same thing. The biggest thing is we got seven on the board."
(on how penalties impacted the momentum of the game) "You've just got to keep punching. We always know it's not going to be pretty. You're not going to get all the calls, even though we want to. You've just got to keep swinging, keep fighting, and the biggest thing is at the end of the game it was in our hands to make a play to win the ball game, and we can't ask for anything better than that."
LINEBACKER CLAY MATTHEWS:
(on bouncing back after the result last Monday night) "I think a lot of the country, and ourselves, were wondering how we'd bounce back. It was a point of emphasis not to allow last week's missed call to get in the way of what we were trying to accomplish here today, and fortunately we were able to come away with a big victory. We're 2-2 after the first quarter of the season. Obviously we'd like to have a better record, but it's where we are and we'll move forward.
It was a short week obviously, so we had to deal with that mentally, but obviously throw in the emotional distress of losing a game on the last play like that. But fortunately I think we aired everything that we wanted to in the initial meeting back after the game. Some things were said, and I think we truly focused on this game and didn't let last week affect us at all tonight."
(on playing against the Saints' offense) "As I've said throughout this week they're a top offense. I know they're 0-4 right now, but they clearly showed it. Drew Brees is an MVP-caliber quarterback. They're doing things right over there, but fortunately we came away with the win."
(on the defense's performance) "We made the stops when we needed to. It seemed like at times they were moving the ball well, especially on third down we need to do a better job getting off the field, but ultimately we came up with the stops when we needed to."
(on Saints running back Darren Sproles being ruled down by contact before fumbling) "It was almost a ‘not again' moment. Fortunately I think that ended with the missed field goal. We were able to make the plays when we needed to."
DEFENSIVE TACKLE B.J. RAJI:
(on when quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to leave the game with an injury) "Obviously the reigning MVP of the league, if he's not in the game I'm not thrilled about it. I don't know if he took a shot in the head, I don't know what it was, but obviously in that case you've got to come out and let them at least check you out. Aaron did the right thing."
(on Saints running back Darren Sproles being ruled down by contact before fumbling) "I was in disbelief. Everyone immediately turns their attention to the jumbotron, and we all saw the same thing. For the call to be what it was is pretty crazy. I guess everyone deserves a pass. It's been a while since (the referees) have been here, so I'm not going to get on them too tough."
(on his personal foul penalty on the goal line) "That was all on me. Being a leader on this defense there's no place for that. Thank God my team rallied around me and we were able to make some plays. That was a big stand right there. I'll just use it as a learning experience."
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