Steelers squeeze by Saints

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Coach Sean Payton had warned last week that the Saints were living on “borrowed time,” that their pattern of turning the ball over more than they had taken it away would catch up with them.

Three lost fumbles cost New Orleans dearly in Sunday’s 38-31 loss at Pittsburgh, but the real irony was that Payton had used the Steelers as the prime example of how turnovers can cause good teams to lose games.

The Steelers (3-6) never lost the ball against the Saints (6-3), and New Orleans’ turnover margin now stands at minus-six, among the worst in the NFL.

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Payton largely eschewed the opportunity to criticize his players in his weekly media briefing at team headquarters on Monday, instead questioning whether he and his assistants should have done more than talk about the importance of taking care of the ball.

“The effort was good. We’ve got a smart team. We’ve got a team of guys that understand the formula,” Payton said. “We need to keep physically doing something during the course of the week in practice that gives credence to what we’re preaching. That’s something we can do as coaches and we can do a better job, starting with me.”

Starting this week, the Saints will spend more time in practice on drills that emphasize protecting the ballas the team prepares to host the Cincinnatti Bengals this Sunday.