Saints can't overcome their mistakes
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SEATTLE -- Heading into CenturyLink Field, the New Orleans Saints didn't expect to be perfect.
"They don't allow you to play perfect here," Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
Too many imperfections cost the Saints, though, as they saw their season end with a 23-15 loss to the host Seattle Seahawks in an NFC divisional playoff game.
"We weren't able to get it done and we go from here," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "It's always tough when you get this far and you're not able to finish."
The mistakes started early for the Saints.
After a three-and-out on the game's opening drive, punter Thomas Morstead bobbled the snap and shanked a punt, booting it 16 yards.
Three plays later, a personal foul on safety Rafael Bush kept alive a Seattle drive that resulted in a field goal.
Kicker Shayne Graham had a rough day, too, missing field-goal attempts from 45 and 48 yards.
The Saints also had several dropped passes and one costly fumble.
On the first play of the second quarter, New Orleans running back Mark Ingram coughed it up and Seattle recovered at the Saints' 24-yard line.
Two plays later, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 15-yard run to put New Orleans in a 13-0 hole.
"It turned out to be critical," Ingram said. "It's my responsibility. You've got to take care of the football and can't help them out."
The Saints didn't make as many critical mistakes late in the game, but the early ones proved to be too much to overcome.
"Things didn't bounce our way early, but we still fought through those and kept the game close and still gave ourselves a chance," Jenkins said.
It wasn't enough, though, to keep their season alive.
"I was proud and am proud of how our guys fought and competed this year," Payton said. "They found a way to win 12 games. Obviously, it wasn't enough for what we aspired to do.
"It's a young team, a lot of new faces. We have an important offseason. [On Monday] we'll begin our work toward improving.''