Sean Payton figured his players deserved to go into their bye week feeling good about themselves.
So while the coach is taking a hard look at what the Saints could have done differently in a dramatic loss at New England on Sunday, he's also complimenting his players' overall effort during a 5-1 start.
''I like the work ethic, the competitive nature of this team,'' Payton asserted Monday. ''I like it a lot.''
The coach said it will probably take his staff and players a couple days to get over their failure to cash in on multiple opportunities to put the Patriots away, only to see Tom Brady pull out his latest game-winning drive.
With no timeouts and 1:13 left, New England marched 70 yards, capped by Brady's pinpoint, 17-yard pass to the back left corner of the end zone, where rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins outleaped cornerback Jabari Greer to make a twisting catch with 5 seconds left in a 30-27 Patriots victory.
Before that, the Saints' defense twice thought they'd thwarted ...