Nearly half of the players in the New Orleans Saints’ locker room know what it feels like to go deep into the season without a loss.
After all, they were there just three years ago.
The 2009 Saints won two games, then three, then four, five, six and seven in a row — sparking talk about them running the table and finishing the regular season with a perfect 16-0 record like the New England Patriots had done two years earlier.
As the Saints rolled into the second half of the season with an 8-0 record, uncharted territory for a franchise that had experienced just eight winning seasons to that point, they simply went about their business.
In their ninth game, they squeaked by the St. Louis Rams, who had one win at the time and would finish 1-15. And the Saints needed a miracle to claim their 12th victory in overtime against the Washington Redskins before the streak ended after a 13-0 start.
Of course, they went on to lose their final three regular-season games before rebounding nicely in the playoffs en route to winning Super Bowl XLIV.
But Wednesday, the Saints weren’t about to dispense any advice for the NFL’s last undefeated team this season — the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons, who come to New Orleans on Sunday.
Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said he didn’t notice that, during their successful run in 2009, other teams were ramping up the intensity to try to hand them their first loss.
Vitt pointed out that the Falcons are doing a good job, even though they’re still five wins away from matching the Saints’ streak, of not worrying about how other teams choose to play them.
“You cannot control how other teams are going to play you,” Vitt said. “You can’t control how other teams are going to prepare for you, the intensity that they play with against you. The only thing you can control is how you prepare and the mind-set that you come to the game with.
“The process for us is one day at a time and one week at a time. … You really don’t try to predict the intensity the other team’s going to play with you. You just can’t do it.”
Wide receiver Lance Moore said it’s only natural for people to think teams play a little harder when the opponent is undefeated.
“It’s tough … it’s tough,” Moore said of trying to go undefeated. “I just think every team plays to win every Sunday. It doesn’t matter what your record is. If you don’t bring it, anybody can pretty much beat anybody.”
Like Moore, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton said records don’t matter in the NFL.
He was on the Falcons team that tried to shoot the Saints down in 2009, but the Saints won their 13th game in a row with a hard-fought 26-23 win over a Falcons team that was 6-6 after losing five of its previous seven games.
“Undefeated, defeated, whatever,” Lofton said. “When it’s a divisional game, you don’t care what their record is or what your record is. You just want to win that game.”