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QBREES9 10-03-2010 09:23 PM

Sunday Evening Quarterback: New Orleans Saints resemble familiar song with uneven effort again in win over Carolina Panthers
NEW ORLEANS – As I left the New Orleans Saints locker room Sunday, after yet another “find a way to win’’ victory by the reigning Super Bowl champions, that 1988 pop classic by Bobby McFerrin back came to mind.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’’

Feel free to sing or whistle along.

“Here’s a little song I wrote,

you might want to sing it note for note,

don’t worry, be happy …’’

Final 1 2 3 4 Score
Carolina 0 7 7 0 14
New Orleans « 0 10 3 3 16
Pictures: NOC • AP | Matchup | Game Blog | Wrap | Box Score | First Take: Not the same team
The Black and Gold escaped with their third victory in four games this season, this time 16-14 against the still winless Carolina Panthers (0-4), but it should never have been that close.

No way, no how.

“In every life we have some trouble,

When you worry, you make it double,

Don’t worry, be happy ...’’

And while the Saints continue to find ways to win, which generally is the mark of a good team, the manner in which they are playing has to be disconcerting for an organization with designs on reaching Super Bowl XLV.

Yes, I understand there is plenty of football still to be played.

Yes, I understand that opposing players get paid, too.

Yes, I understand the Saints are 3-up, 1-down after the first quarter of the season and are tied with the Atlanta Falcons atop the NFC South, although the Dirty Birds won the first meeting between the teams.

I get all of that.

Then, why are there frowns on the faces of some Who Dats today? Why did a smattering of boos emerge from the sellout crowd with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter when the Saints were trailing only 14-10? Why does the ring of 3-1 sound so hollow?

“Ain’t got no place to lay your head,

somebody came and took your bed,

don’t worry, be happy.’’

Years ago, Saints fans would have been delirious with a 3-1 record after beating the likes of Minnesota (14-9), San Francisco on the road (25-22) and now Carolina, which has been an annual thorn in the side of Coach Sean Payton.

But these aren’t your grandfather’s Saints. Not even close. They are the defending World Champion Saints and have the Vince Lombardi Trophy to prove it.

They just aren’t playing like the defending World Champions and that should be cause for concern for owner Tom Benson, General Manager Mickey Loomis and Payton, among others.

“We definitely still have a killer instinct,’’ said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who completed 33 of 48 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown for a solid 90.2 passer rating. “We’re just making stupid mistakes … We’re 3-1 and a field goal away from being 4-0 … I look at today and today should have been a 30-point day.’’

Brees pointed to missed scoring opportunities that could have resulted in 14 additional points.

To which I say, coulda, woulda, shoulda.

"The landlord say your rent is late,

He may have to litigate

don’t worry, be happy.’’

Payton didn’t have the look of a happy coach when he addressed a room full of reporters and TV cameras afterward.

He had the look of someone who knew his team had not played well and won perhaps in spite of themselves.

Beating the 0-4 Panthers is one thing, but beating Pittsburgh at the Superdome (Oct. 31), and the big four on the road - Dallas (Nov. 25), Cincinnati (Dec. 5), Baltimore (Dec. 19) and the Falcons (Dec. 27) will be quite another.

“We made just enough plays to get the win, and that is what is most important,’’ Payton said. “Although it wasn’t always perfect, it was a good win.’’

All together now:

“Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style

ain’t got no gal to make you smile,

but don’t worry, be happy

cuz’ when you worry, your face will frown,

and that will bring everybody down,

don’t worry, be happy now.’’

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