The New Orleans Saints have had extra time to stew on their last game, a bitter 20-17 loss at Atlanta last Thursday.
It wasn't just a division loss to the Saints' most intense rival, it was also a game that featured controversial officiating, an inordinate number of injuries to New Orleans players and a heart-breaking ending.
The Saints were penalized 11 times for 87 yards and the Falcons gained nine of their 26 first downs via penalty, causing head coach Sean Payton to criticize the officiating.
Six Saints left the game for good because of injuries.
Quarterback Drew Brees threw an end-zone interception with his team poised to at least kick a tying field goal or possibly score a go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes.
"Looking back at it, (there are) things you want back, things you wish shouldn't have happened," defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. "I think a lot of guys felt like we should have won that game.
"A lot of guys had some real ill feelings towards that game so definitely add that to our preparation this week to go out and make it a point to win this game and then get on to our last two."
The Saints (9-4) host the New York Jets on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before hosting a rematch with the Falcons (8-5) a week later.
"The last one (stunk), especially being Atlanta," tackle Terron Armstead said. "But we still are in control of everything as far as our playoff position goes or the NFC South standings go -- still in control of everything."
With three weeks left in the regular season, New Orleans could secure any of the six NFC playoff spots or fall out of the playoff picture completely.
"Anybody in this locker room who tells you they're not looking at it, they're probably lying to you," Rankins said of the playoff positioning. "But we can only control what we can control. If we go out and win our remaining three games, it puts us at 12-4, great season and then wherever we're ranked at that point it is what it is and we'll go from there."
New Orleans has won its last five home games, and its only home loss came Sept. 17 when it lost the home opener against New England 36-20. After that game, the Saints won eight straight before losing two of its last three.
"We see more the nine (wins) out of 11 than the two (losses) out of three," safety Kenny Vaccaro said.
13th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 6-6. The Jets won the last meeting, 26-20, in 2013 in MetLife Stadium, and the Saints won the last meeting in the Superdome, 24-10, in 2009. New Orleans has won five of the last seven. The Saints' first victory was notable because they entered the 1980 game in Shea Stadium with an 0-14 record, and the 21-20 triumph was their only victory in a 1-15 season.
The Saints addressed their injury-plagued defensive line by signing defensive end George Johnson, who played in four games with Detroit earlier this season. New Orleans lost starting defensive end Alex Okafor to an Achilles injury last month and his replacement, rookie Trey Hendrickson, has been limited by an ankle injury the last two weeks. "He (Johnson) is a veteran player that can play the run and the pass," head coach Sean Payton said. "He gives us some depth in a rotation there." New Orleans released tackle Bryce Harris to make room for Johnson.
The Saints rank second-to-last in the NFL in punt return average (4.9 yards), but they have improved during the last four games since Tommylee Lewis replaced Ted Ginn Jr. Lewis has returned just four punts during that time, but he has averaged 10.8 yards.
BUMPS AND BRUISES
LB A.J. Klein (groin) did not practice Wednesday.
WR Ted Ginn Jr. (rib) did not practice Wednesday.
DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.
OL Andrus Peat (groin) was limited in practice Wednesday.
S Kenny Vaccaro (groin) was limited Wednesday.
TE Josh Hill (shoulder) was limited Wednesday.
RB Alvin Kamara (concussion) participated fully Wednesday.
OL Senio Kelemete (concussion) participated fully Wednesday.
WR Michael Thomas (eye) participated fully Wednesday.
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