"Mike's confidence is destroyed a little bit right now," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "But he's got to come back. He's got to play good for us. We need him down the stretch."
Lewis, who earned a Pro Bowl invitation two years ago, never has been as good a pass defender as he is a run defender. But he started to have noticeable problems in coverage last season and has really struggled this season.
He almost set fire to the Eagles' 38-24 win over Dallas last week. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Eagles holding a 31-24 lead, he inexcusably got beat on a double move by Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn. Lewis had to commit a 57-yard pass interference penalty to save a touchdown. Two plays later, teammate Lito Sheppard intercepted a Drew Bledsoe pass in the end zone and returned it 102 yards for a game-clinching touchdown.
On Sunday, Lewis' fingerprints, along with those of middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, were on a first-quarter touchdown catch by Horn that gave the Saints a 10-0 lead. Then, with the Eagles up 24-17 early in the fourth quarter, Horn beat Lewis with an out-and-up move and caught a game-tying 48-yard touchdown pass from Brees. The Saints would go on to win the game later, 27-24, on a 31-yard field goal by John Carney.
Lewis said he understood why Johnson pulled him.
"We needed somebody to make a play," he said. "You can't give up (big) plays. That's rule number one."
Said Eagles free safety Brian Dawkins: "The thing about Mike, what he's going to have to do and what we'll do a good of helping him to do is help him erase that (play) as soon as possible and get him back out there. Because I need him out there with me."