As it was, word that the team's owners had given the coach an extension through the 2012 season was merely some good news that tempered a sour day.
Payton's deal was confirmed by the team before kickoff. He was already signed through 2009, so the new agreement adds three years to his contract.
"I wish we could've won the game for him on the day he got his contract extended," running back Reggie Bush said. "But it was a tough game, tough loss. But obviously that's great for him."
"I love his style of offense and I love his aggressiveness and just his leadership," quarterback Drew Brees said. "All those things that you want in a head coach, he's got it. He's played the quarterback position before, so I just felt like we were right there on the same page with everything, so he was a big part of why I came to New Orleans."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press