NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A long night on the field in Seattle got even worse off of it, and now the Saints are operating on a compressed time-frame as they brace for surging Carolina with first place in the NFC South at stake.
Forced to stay overnight in Seattle because of a delay of their charter flight, the Saints didn't get back to New Orleans until after 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday, nearly 12 hours after they had planned to return.
Players were sent home to get some rest and an afternoon of film study and conditioning at club headquarters was essentially wiped out.
Even before the flight delay, coach Sean Payton expressed concerned about not having his usual Monday-through-Saturday timeframe to prepare for the Panthers, who were able to start their preparations on Monday and will arrive in New Orleans riding an eight-game winning streak.
"One of the things that we discussed was just the quick turnaround," Payton said after Monday night's loss. "It's a setback and now you're on a short week, but we have to make the corrections. We can't just say it didn't happen. But that being said, we have to quickly get focused on Carolina. Their playing as good football as anybody in the league right now."
Team officials did not specify what caused the flight delay but confirmed the Saints did not take off until a little after noon EST.
The Saints will return to work Wednesday as they try to bounce back from a 34-7 drubbing that dropped them into a tie with Carolina atop the NFC South at 9-3 and set new marks for futility in the Payton era.
The seven points matched the fewest scored by the Saints since Payton became coach in 2006 and the 188 total yards were the fewest in his coaching tenure.
"We got our butts smacked around pretty good," running back Mark Ingram said. "So we've got to swallow this and go back to the drawing board."