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New Orleans' Garrett Hartley reacts after missing on a game-winning field goal attempt against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Green Bay won the game 28-27. (Associated Press)<br>

New Orleans' Garrett Hartley reacts after missing on a game-winning field goal attempt against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Green Bay won the game 28-27. (Associated Press)

Gazzolo: Saints only have themselves to blame for 0-4 start

Last Modified: Monday, October 01, 2012 10:01 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Looking a gift zebra in the mouth, the Saints got spat on once again.

Things have gotten so bad in New Orleans that even a present from the regular officials is not enough for these Saints to get a win.

A fumble on a kick return was not called, so the Saints were able to move within field goal range of beating the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

It was a win that would have kicked new life back into the franchise.

On the road, down by one and time winding down. A field goal would give the Sains a win that should’ve been a loss and that could have changed the course of the season.

Could have, would have, should have.

Funny thing is, the Saints even made the kick. Right down the middle. Victory was within reach, but so was a Packer defender.

A holding call on the field goal took the points off the board.

Still, Green Bay gave half those yards back with a penalty of its own.

Two teams searching for a way to lose. Which one would be successful?

The Saints have gotten so good at losing you just knew when the final kick was made, it would be wide of the uprights.

Loss No. 4 was in the books.

Instead of being coupled with the likes of Green Bay and Atlanta at the top of the heap, the Saints find themselves lumped in with the only other winless team — the Cleveland Browns.

And nobody wants to be connected to Cleveland.

You can blame it on the bounty thing, blame it on the Sean Payton suspension, blame it on Roger Goodell for that matter.

But if you do, you are missing the point.

The Saints are winless because they are not making the big plays at key moments.

The week before in that ugly loss to Kansas City at home, the mighty Saints offense, the one that was going to lead this club out of the darkness that was the offseason and into the Super Bowl, produced no points in the second half and overtime. None.

That left the door open for the Chiefs to steal their only win so far this season.

Sunday, in Green Bay, that same Saints offense had a chance to put the Packers away long before that botched field goal attempt.

In the fourth quarter, New Orleans again put up a zero.

Fact is, with the game on the line, the Saints offense has been missing in action.

As for the defense, well it had a hard time stopping anybody even in the good years.

What was missed while everybody was focusing on the suspensions, bounty appeals and figuring out just who would be coaching this team was the simple truth. The Saints just don’t have the playmakers.

It is a bitter pill to swallow.

The die-hard fans want to blame somebody for their pain and suffering.

Goodell is still tops on the list. A few of those replacement referees also got a long, hard look from Saints fans.

But fingers only really need to be pointed in the direction of the players and coaches. They are the ones who have made the big mistakes.

Drew Brees has put up great numbers once again, but he has also made a few major blunders. Those are miscues we haven’t seen from him before.

The coaching staff has at times looked lost, which is predictable since we are on the third-string.

And the fire seems unlit more often than not.

At 0-4 all hope is not yet lost, but it is fading very fast.

If the Saints are going to turn it around and save the season, they need to know where to place the blame.

You can’t fix a problem until you first know what it is.

For that, they only have to look in the mirror.

•••

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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