Ditka: Saints played pathetic against Miami

The message was succinct, but the meaning was very powerful for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Saints coach Mike Ditka needed 35 seconds to sum up his team's unsightly 30-10 loss to Miami at Pro Player Stadium.

"Fellas, this is going to be pretty quick," Ditka said after shuffling into a post-game interview room. "I'm embarrassed for myself, for the coaching staff, for the organization. It's the most pathetic exhibition of football that I've ever seen. Defense was horrible, offense was horrible and special teams were beat. There's nothing else you can say.

"We were out-coached, we were out-played. I will say this though, we may get beat from now on. But we will play aggressive defense from now on. That's all I can say. We will play aggressive defense."

Ditka's harsh assessment came minutes after the Saints (5-7) blew a chance to pull into a tie with Arizona (6-6) - which lost 34-24 Sunday at Kansas City - for the final NFC wild-card playoff berth.

The statistics were his talking points:

          *Miami rolled up 375 yards of offense to the Saints' 157.

          *New Orleans turned the ball over four times to Miami's two.

While Saints quarterback Kerry Collins was sacked six times, Miami's Dan Marino wasn't sacked at all. So the Saints' streak of 60 consecutive games with at least one sack, tied for third longest in NFL history, is over.

"Our offense was not good," said Collins, whose 35 yards made him the Saints' leading rusher for the third time in as many starts. "We are not going to win many games playing like that. The quarterback can't be your leading rusher three weeks in a row. This is a team game, and we all have to play better."

The Saints led 10-3 after safety Rob Kelly's 79-yard interception return for a touchdown with five minutes, 43 seconds left in the first half. But Miami (8-4) reeled off 27 unanswered points behind three touchdown passes from Dan Marino - who became the first player in NFL history to throw 400 touchdown passes - to O.J. McDuffie.

Trailing just 13-10 heading into the second half, the Saints could muster just three first downs and 65 yards of offense. That allowed Miami to hold the ball for 20:25 of the second half's 30 minutes, which didn't do much for Saints' beleaguered defense.

"It seemed like we had about 90 plays on defense," Saints cornerback Alex Molden said. "We can't do that."

Kelly's play seemed to set the Saints up nicely. But Marino bounced right back with a 70-yard touchdown drive that took 3:50 and ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to McDuffie.

After Collins was intercepted on the next play by Miami's Sam Madison, the defense that had already been on the field for 13 consecutive plays was forced into battle again.

Marino passed to McDuffie (16 yards) and Oronde Gadsden (14 yards) moved the Dolphins to the Saints 15. Olindo Mare's 32-yard field goal put them ahead for good at 13-10 with 41 seconds left in the half.

Mare made a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter before Marino engineered an 82-yard, 10-play drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to McDuffie - Marino's 400th scoring pass.

The play made history, doomed the Saints to their seventh loss in the last nine games, and left Ditka and his team lost for words.

"I was always told if I have nothing good to say, just keep your mouth shut," Saints defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "I have nothing good to say."