There were smiles all around the New Orleans Saints training facility on Monday following the team’s 41-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. “We’ve got a lot of guys that have a lot of want-to on this team and have a lot of pride,” Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt said Monday. “It was a good, team win and we probably put together four quarters as well as we have all year long.”
“It was great. It’s sad that it was a little late in the season to happen,” said Saints defensive end Cam Jordan Monday. “You definitely would like it to click a little earlier, but it’s still nice to see that everyone can come together for a complete game finally.”
“We know the talent we have in the locker room and we definitely displayed that yesterday,” Saints guard Jahri Evans told reporters Monday. “We wish we could have done that earlier in the season but it’s never too late. Guys played hard. Guys played for each other. We came out there and we put up points on the board and the defense held them to zero points which is huge. You definitely saw a glimpse of what we were trying to do going into the season and what we knew we had in the locker room. Hopefully we can keep it going, finish strong and take it into next year.”
Players seem to have adhered to Vitt’s message that the final games of the season are essentially interviews for the 2013 season. “When people say or question are we packing it in or is our team packing it in, any player that packs it in early is foolish because everybody is being evaluated and there’s a thousand guys on the street that would love to have out jobs,” said Saints punter/kicker Thomas Morestead. “It was kind of a bitter sweet feeling to win like that, more sweet than bitter I would say, to know that we are capable of playing like that as a collective team. It makes you think back to a whole bunch of games where we didn’t get it done.”
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said following the game that the mindset entering the game was established early in the week leading up to the game. It seems that the same mentality is already being established this week. “We are 6-8 right now with two games left. We need to go to Dallas, get that, and come back home and play Cam Newton and Carolina,” Jordan says of the Saints goal the rest of the way. “That is definitely what it is about right now, breaking even and playing these complete games and that is what we should have been doing all along. It’s nice to see that we are able to capitalize the potential that everybody saw in us, this past game, but we should have shown it earlier.”
The performance by the Saints defense on Sunday was still a much talked about topic Monday. New Orleans limited Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin to just 16 yards on nine carries and forced five turnovers.
Fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome stuck around to see the defense do something they hadn’t done in 17 years, that being shutting out a team. The excitement was on the sidelines as well. “Somewhere around the fourth quarter with six minutes left I was jumping on the sidelines thinking that this could definitely happen,” Saints defensive end Cam Jordan said. “This hasn’t happened since high school where we would get burritos for a goose egg. No burritos today. But this is for sure a very exciting time, and to do it against Tampa Bay is pretty exciting as well. I’m not sure how many yards Doug Martin rushed for, but I’m pretty sure we held him (to only 16 yards).”
“Burritos for shutouts huh, that’s easy,” said a laughing Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “All I needed to know was offer them burritos right, could have had more shutouts if I knew that.”
The candor was nice to see considering the season coach Spags and his defense have had this season. They have been the worst defense in the NFL pretty much the whole season and following a 52-27 beat down by the Giants, the effort put out on Sunday should make the fans feel good. “We had a stretch there where I thought we were pretty solid,” says Spagnuolo. “The goal is to always shut a team out and that doesn’t happen very often, but you try to get as close to it as you can. We have been close in some games, and further away in others. Again, I go back to the Giants game, which was not a good performance, and to be able to bounce back like that is as impressive as anything.”
The Saints defense, Giants game aside, the defense has shown improvement and sings that the future could be bright on that side of the football for the Black and Gold. “As a unit, it’s exciting,” says Jordan of the future. “Sure we have come on late, but we still have an abundance of young talent between me, Akiem Hicks, Martez Wilson and Junior Galette, there are some possibilities, some great possibilities that something could happen.”
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