Metairie, La. -- You can't talk about the Saints in the playoffs this year without mentioning the last two seasons in particular-- both ending short of their ultimate goal. But those endings have only unified this team and made them stronger.
"A lot of people before this year were talking about we were just worried about the losses too much and we weren't going to be back and we're sitting at 13 and 3," said Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. "I said that from the beginning. It's a loss. We can't do anything about it. We're over it. We got to get over it. I just know what type of team we've got. Nobody really holds their heads down. Everybody's trying to make each other better and that's what we need."
"To be able to take some of those circumstances and some of those unfortunate things," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, "and be able to turn that into something positive and use that as fuel, use that as a way to bring us closer together and really fight through that adversity to bring out the best in all of us. So from '17 to '18 being able to do that and now from '18 to '19 and we're in a position now to continue to take steps forward to achieve the ultimate goal."
Brees continues to speak of this group as an ascending team- that they're getting better and peaking at the right time. At one point their offensive production was in question, but that unit has taken noticeable strides the past few weeks.
"The standard that we've set for ourselves felt like there were a lot of things we could be doing better," Brees said. "We wanted to continue to progress forward throughout the latter half of this season to the point that we were playing our best football going into the post season. I think we've made great strides from week to week. I do think we've gotten better each week."
One of their offensive weapons that's seen more action as of late is tight end Jared Cook, who's embracing his increased role as the season's gone on.
"I feel like things started clicking a little bit more the second half of the season for me," Cook said. "Things just started rolling in -- receptions, a lot more receptions, a lot more targets and more touchdown catches. I think that's kind of what we envisioned with me getting here."