by Clay A. Smith
Photo by Jonathan Bachman
(Quick Disclaimer: Alejandro here. I wanted to take a quick moment to introduce the new intern on Blog of New Orleans, Mr. Clay A. Smith. Clay's a native New Orleanian, attended UNO and is a passionate Saints and Hornets fan.)
So here we are again Saints fans lodged in an all too familiar position, seduced by the lure of that Black and Fools Gold only to be left staggered, languishing inconsolably in the doldrums of dejection as the flavor of the week leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the collective Who Dat? nation. It's an odd phenomenon: perennial underachievers, the Saints historically have turned the second half collapse into an art form. Theyve squandered leads, turned the ball over, given up big plays, and committed boneheaded and often untimely penalties, and yet we are still genuinely shocked every time they find away to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
This past Sunday was no different. With the game and their playoff hopes in the balance and just under four minutes left in regulation, the Saints took the field led by arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. Ostensibly, it appeared to be a favorable scenario but as the adage goes that is why we play the game. The Saints remained true to form as M.V.P. candidate Drew Brees threw two late-game interceptions, putting the proverbial nails in the coffin.
Though much of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Brees, there was still lots to go around after the gut wrenching loss in Tampa. The Saints running game was virtually nonexistent with their three running backs managing only 47 rushing yards-just five more than Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia. After a four-game absence with a knee injury, Reggie Bushs anticipated return fell short of expectations with zero yards rushing and minus 16 in the return game. To make matters worse the Saints receivers dropped critical passes the entire game including a late game gaff by sure-handed wide-receiver Marques Colston that preceded the first of Brees last two interceptions. "We had our perfect chances out there and we didn't take advantage of it," said Brees after the game.
New Orleans has just four games left and remain in last place in what many consider to be the toughest and most competitive division in the league. Now, with thier team hanging on to the slimmest of playoff hopes and rapidly running out of chances," you couldnt blame discouraged fans for thinking the season is all but over. But Saints fans, as you know, are of a different breed with resolve calloused by years of inconceivable agony. This upcoming Sunday there will undoubtedly be packed seats in the Superdome, fathers and sons rushing home from church to tune in with family and friends, and would-be analysts transfixed on their televisions (in living rooms and bars), all believing that this is their (Saints) day. The only question is, will the Saints?
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