Chris Boyd says Saints 'got a little conservative' and 'stopped playing' as they suffered an agonising 16-14 defeat to Newcastle Falcons at Franklin's Gardens.
Falcons scored well after the clock had hit 80 with Mark Wilson's try and Toby Flood's conversion earning the away side a crucial Gallagher Premiership success.
It was Newcastle's sixth successive league win against Saints and it lifted Dean Richards' men off the bottom of the table.
Saints are ninth in the standings, just three points ahead of basement side Sale Sharks, who have a game in hand, which comes at 10th-placed Bath on Sunday.
And the black, green and gold's position looks increasingly precarious after they failed to convert a 14-6 lead against the Falcons.
"I thought we were in control of the game and maybe we got a little conservative, stopped playing, made a few too many mistakes in critical areas and we couldn't hold them out," said Boyd, who saw two Cobus Reinach tries put his team in control with half an hour remaining.
"One of our coaches must be Nostradamus because he said down there (in the dressing room) that if you let them stay in the game, they'll probably grind it out at the end and that's how it proved to be.
"We had opportunities to put it to bed long before they did and at the end of the day we've got to suck it up.
"We talked at half-time about trying to win the game rather than avoid losing it and we said we needed to be optimistic.
"We have to look to see why we turned the ball over and why we kept them in the game for so long.
"The game should have been well beyond them.
"I felt we could have had four tries by half-time, but we didn't.
"We didn't get the points we wanted and we've got a couple of European games now before we play Worcester. Every game is important."