Dennis Allen stepped to the podium and didn't mince words.
This loss hit a bit harder, even if the Saints head coach didn't note the obvious point that it effectively ended the season for his team in his debut as the head coach.
"Yeah, look, it sucks. It stings, it hurts," Dennis Allen said. "We're going to get a little time in this bye, get rested and recovered. And then we'll be back at work, getting ready for Atlanta. And that's what our job is our job is. Our job is to get ourselves prepared to go play the best football we can. So that's what we'll do."
If it stings more than the other eight losses this team has suffered this season, that's likely due to how close it felt like the Saints were to winning it and how long they were in that position. The Saints trailed 3-0 after the Bucs opening drive, then scored the next 16 points in the game. But there were missed opportunities that stick out like thorns in hindsight.
Chris Olave had a ball bounce off his helmet that'd have set up the Saints in field goal range. Instead it was a punt. Jarvis Landry went for a one-handed grab in the red zone that he couldn't corral. It meant the Saints kicked a field goal instead of a likely touchdown. Midway through the 4th quarter the Saints kicked a field goal on 4th and 2 rather than the kill shot. Mark Ingram went out of bounds of his own volition shy of the first down marker late in the game, with the Saints failing to convert on third down and punting.
It all added up to the Saints losing a game they had dominated for 57 minutes, with the Bucs scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 3 seconds remaining in the game. Instead of going into the bye week a half-game out of the division lead, it's 2.5 games with the Bucs now owning the tiebreaker. Mathematically there are still questions to answer, realistically the bed is made.
Look, when you play Tom Brady, when you have a chance to put him away, you have to be able to put him away," Allen said. "And I felt like we missed some opportunities to put him away."
WILL YOU LOOK AT A POTENTIAL QB CHANGE?
Saints QB Andy Dalton has been the starter since Week 4. The team has gone 3-7 since he's had the reins, but it doesn't sound like he's in danger of having his job handed back to Jameis Winston.
"I don't think we go there right now," Allen said. "I mean, we just lost a tough-ass game. I thought I thought Andy [Dalton] actually played pretty pretty well in this game."
Allen's assessment of Dalton's performance feels fair. He went 20-28 for 229 yards and a touchdown. The key drops are outside of his control, just as they were late in the loss to the 49ers. Could a change spark things? Maybe, but it doesn't appear that will be the case unless Allen's tune changes throughout the bye week.