Haslett lets loose; Saints' coach upset about playing at Giants stadium
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Now that he's been through the experience of playing a "home" game on the road, and came away a loser, New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett is furious about it all.
Back at the team's temporary home in San Antonio, Haslett said Tuesday the Saints were at a competitive disadvantage in their 27-10 loss to the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on Monday night -- even if they were wearing their home jerseys and saw their nickname painted in one of the end zones.
"They could have done that anywhere," Haslett said. "They could have played that game in Baton Rouge. They could have played it in San Antonio and could have done the same thing.
"To play it in Giants Stadium, to give them another home game and to put us in a situation where we couldn't hear ... It wasn't why we lost that game, but ..."
When the league told the Saints they had to play in New Jersey, Haslett would only say it put his team behind the eight-ball. Yet after seeing his team commit six turnovers and 13 penalties, he let loose.
"It wasn't a home game," he said. "I look up at the scoreboard and there are signs, 'Let's Go Giants'. The referees, when they flipped the coin, they asked us if we wanted heads or tails. They had no idea who the home team was and who was away. The crowd noise we had to deal with, we never had to do a silent count at home."
Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks had some strong comments about all the hoopla surrounding the game.
"They made this seem like the Super Bowl," Brooks said after the loss. "We played a team that outplayed us today, but it was way overdone. Setting up a stage, traveling out here, was uncalled for.
"Try not to patronize us next time, traveling us to New York, saying we're playing a home game."
Haslett tempered his remarks with appreciation for the in-game telethon that featured current and former NFL star answering telephones in the effort to support those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The league said Tuesday that $5 million was raised for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund in about 6½ hours.
"The whole thing was a great cause and the NFL did a great job of raising money for the Gulf Coast," Haslett said.
The Saints won't have any more home games in an opponents' stadium. The remaining seven games initially scheduled for the Superdome will be played at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., and the Alamodome in San Antonio, where the team has its practice site and headquarters.
"I don't think (an NFL team) has done that many games traveling," he said. "I think that's something that will be answered in January or February because I really don't know. Hopefully we handle it better than what we did yesterday."
The Saints were attempting to maintain the league's longest winning streak dating to last season. New Orleans won four straight to end last season and defeated the Carolina Panthers in their season-opener.
During their roll, the Saints had eight more turnovers than their opponents. On Monday night, it was the Giants that came away with five more.
The edge began eroding when Fred McAfee fumbled on the opening kickoff on an attempted reverse. New York scored three plays later.
Many of the penalties came on special teams. One possession started on the 14-yard line instead of the 28 because of a Mike McKenzie roughness penalty on a kickoff return. Another was backed up to the 5 when Fred Thomas was called for blocking above the waist on a punt return. And another drive started on the 15 when Terrence Melton was called for holding on a kickoff return.
"The penalties were our fault and the turnovers were bad decisions," Haslett said. "You've got to hold onto the ball. We had poor field position all day because of our own doing. Special teams were ragged all day on our return units."
Even if McAfee would have held on to the ball, the Saints would have started their first drive of the night from their own 16 on the failed reverse.
"That's not the great way to start the game -- a turnover and seven quick ones," Haslett said.
Now the Saints (1-1) are getting ready for another road game, this time in Minnesota. It will be the fourth straight week they fly to a game, counting the preseason.
"We lost one game and this team's overcome a lot in the last month, so that one game is nothing compared to what we've had to overcome," Haslett said. "It's just the way it was played out -- a Monday night and all the things that were going on. We didn't deal with the situation very well.
"We'll forget it and we'll move on and try to play better this week."
Notes:@Multi-game tickets for games played in Baton Rouge, La., will be sold on the Internet starting Friday and walk-up sales start Monday at Tiger Stadium. Capacity at Tiger Stadium will be 79,000 -- down from 91,600 for LSU games -- because of staffing concerns on the part of LSU officials. ... Kickoff and punt returner Michael Lewis suffered what Haslett called a serious knee injury and could miss extensive action.