After Further Review: Saints get close but still far away

After Further Review: Saints get close but still far away

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A loss is still a loss. 0-1 is still 0-1. When a head coach and quarterback are among the highest paid in the league at their respective positions, moral victories don't exist.

But still, I couldn't help but exit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday feeling a small piece of optimism despite a heartbreaking 35-34 defeat.

That's hard to hear for a fan base that hasn't experienced a winning record in quite some time. But, it's the truth.

The Saints showed many positives against the Raiders, things that they hadn't shown all preseason. The offensive line looked disoriented and inept leading up to Sunday. Yet, somehow, they managed to pull it together to completely neutralize a very active Raiders' front featuring one of the best young stars in the game.

With that time, Drew Brees reminded us all what he is capable of. He sliced up the Raiders secondary for 423 yards and four touchdowns.

He threw a lot to a trio of youthful receivers who looked wise beyond their years. Willie Snead caught nine passes and steadily moved the chains. Brandin Cooks ran his way into the Saints' record books with a 98-yard touchdown reception that would've impressed Usain Bolt. Michael Thomas had six catches of his own and nearly saved the game with a heads-up recovery of a Snead fumble.

But, of course, not all things were encouraging. The Saints once again failed to generate a consistent pass rush. Plus, when Delvin Breaux went down, Derek Carr and company tore right through all the good vibes to lead Oakland to 25 points in the final quarter and a half.

"In the end, we were not able to play well enough to finish the game," Sean Payton said after the game.

He said it with a realization that while his team was close, so were a lot of other teams Sunday. Life in the NFL is going to always be close. The Saints are absolutely close enough to compete. But are they good enough to win consistently?

That answer is still to be determined.

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