New Orleans Saints star heartbroken at Panthers defeat

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Offensive tackle Zach Strief has described the locker room as the 'most disappointed' it has been all season following the New Orleans Saints' narrow defeat to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The Saints looked to have the game, top spot in the NFC South and a place in the play-offs all in the bag when Jimmy Graham's touchdown put them up against the Panthers in the 4th quarter.

However the Panthers, led by quarterback Cam Newton, fought back immediately and got the touchdown they needed to claim a 17-13 win that puts them in the play-offs.

Strief said it was hard for his team-mates to hide their disappointment following the defeat in Carolina, but added that they were proud of their effort as they came within inches of ending their poor run of form on the road.

It's the most disappointed this locker room has been all season. It's wildly disappointing," he told reporters.

"That's a tough way to lose, and the fact of the matter is for all the energy, for all the excitement, for all the effort, at the end of the day, it counts as if you didn't have any of it."

Saints coach Sean Payton was equally philosophical following the defeat, with one regular season game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to come next Sunday.

"We didn't get the win, but we played like we're going to get plenty of them," Payton said.

"We gave up the big drive at the end. But it's disappointing, it's not discouraging. We'll be just fine [if we keep playing with that effort]."

Quarterback Drew Brees, who was sacked six times in the game, added: "Of course it is painful, but we are trying to draw from the positives.

"We put together a game plan that I really felt like we executed for the most part really well, both offensively and defensively. And, you know, it didn't result in a lot of points, it didn't result in a lot of flair. But the fact of the matter is it gave us a chance to win in the end.

"[There are] just a couple little things here and there that I think we recognize that we can still improve upon. But it's all out there in front of us." 

NFL Playoffs
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
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