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Agony of defeat......

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; AGONY OF DEFEAT The day after Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to Carolina wasn't any easier for Saints coach Jim Haslett, who called the setback the most gut-wrenching of his four-year tenure in New Orleans Tuesday October 28, 2003 By Jeff ...

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Old 10-28-2003, 09:02 AM   #1
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Agony of defeat......


The day after Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to Carolina wasn't any easier for Saints coach Jim Haslett, who called the setback the most gut-wrenching of his four-year tenure in New Orleans

Tuesday October 28, 2003

By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

By Monday morning, Saints coach Jim Haslett already had watched the play several times.

By the time he met reporters to address Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to Carolina at the Superdome, the replay count had reached "about 55," he said.

Normally, Haslett isn't prone to such sadistic, obsessive tendencies, but this wasn't a normal loss. In fact, Haslett called it the most gut-wrenching setback of his four-year career as head coach.

"Because of the way it happened," he said.

After deconstructing every detail of the loss during a somber 20-minute press conference, Haslett gathered a handful of reporters for one final viewing.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times he rewound, reviewed, rehashed and replayed it, the outcome of the critical fourth-and-1 play stayed the same. Each time Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers beat tight end Ernie Conwell's block and hammered Deuce McAllister in the backfield short of a first down.

Haslett could only shake his head.

"It just kills me," he said. "If we just make one play we're sitting here at 4-4 and everybody is happy."

Instead, the Saints are 3-5 and sullen.

"You always second-guess yourself," Haslett said. "When you look at the film it's a good call. You put the ball in your best player's hands. If one more guy does his job, then you are probably sitting here even (at .500)."

While Haslett called the failed 92-lead run "the defining play" of the game, he cited several other missed opportunities that contributed to the outcome:

-- Wide receiver Talman Gardner's two dropped passes on third-down situations, primary contributors to a season-low 2-of-12 third-down conversion rate.

"Nothing against Talman, but he had a chance to ice something on third down," Haslett said. "You need to make those plays whether you are a rookie or a 35-year-old veteran."

-- Tight end Boo Williams' failure to convert a first down on a third-and-1 pass reception on the last-minute, game-tying drive in regulation.

"Boo knows he needs to make that play," Haslett said. "If he just falls forward he gets the first down, and we get a chance to drive down and win the game."

-- Three turnovers: a fumble and interception by Aaron Brooks and the fateful final fumble by McAllister. The fumble by McAllister was his first in 251 carries, dating to last season's game against Baltimore in Week 13. The interception by Brooks was his first in 104 attempts, dating to the Oct. 5 game at Carolina.

-- Missed tackles and three key defensive penalties on the Panthers' go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

"What it really boiled down to was a few crucial errors on either side (of the ball), 10 guys doing something right and one guy doing something wrong," Haslett said. "It was only about four or five plays on each side of the ball."

The 3-5 record is the worst at the midway point of the Haslett era. The 2000 team was 5-3 and placed second behind the St. Louis Rams in the NFC West Division. The 2001 team was 4-4, tied for third in the NFC West. Last season, the Saints were 6-2 and tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first in the NFC South.

The good news is Haslett expects injured starters, wide receiver Donté Stallworth, linebacker Sedrick Hodge and defensive end Darren Howard, to return to action in the next two or three weeks.

Also, the schedule down the stretch appears less formidable. The combined record of their first eight opponents is 34-23 (.596). The combined record of their final eight opponents is 25-31 (.446).

However, the second half begins with a stern test: a trip to defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, which defeated Dallas 16-0 on Sunday.

"It was a physically hard-fought game," Haslett said. "I know everybody was tired, beat up and sore. Mentally that is a draining game because they played well enough to win. . . . Our guys have to be resilient. We have to come back Wednesday and load it up and try to go into a hostile environment and to win a game."

Haslett knows that might be particularly difficult considering the circumstances of Sunday's setback. He noted the dour mood of his squad during a team meeting Monday morning.

"That's a tough loss," Haslett said. "It's not easy (to get over it). I have confidence in our group that they will put it behind them and come back to work on Wednesday. There is a lot of football yet to be played."

. . . . . . .
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Old 10-28-2003, 09:05 AM   #2
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Agony of defeat......

BEAT would like to express it\'s full confidence in the ability of Aaron Brooks to lead this team through the playoffs.
BEAT believes that Brooks will not let this season be for nothing.
BEAT knows that Brooks will inspire this team to achieve greatness.
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Old 10-28-2003, 09:37 AM   #3
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Agony of defeat......

*** Gurgle, Gurgle***

What IS that noise? I suppose it \"could\" be BMG takin\' another gigantic swig of 08 Kool-Aid. Yes it surely \"could\" be, but then it \"could\" be the sound of something even more sinister.
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Old 10-28-2003, 11:57 AM   #4
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Agony of defeat......

It\'s a tough pill to swallow.
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