The turbulent 2012 New Orleans Saints season finally came to an end on Sunday. The team’s 44-38 loss to Carolina secured the team’s worst season since 2007 at (7-9) and came about much the way the season played out.
“It was totally unacceptable what happened today. We talk about keys to victory and what we have to do to win,” Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said. “We are outrushed by almost 200 yards and they converted almost twice as much as we did on third down, and as catastrophic as that is, you still have a chance, potentially, to get back in the game with two onside kicks, even though they recovered them. But you have two penalties at the end that put them in field goal range, it’s not acceptable and we are going to get it fixed. It’s not what this team is about. Very disappointing, very disappointing. There is no way to sugarcoat this. Very disappointing.”
A record-setting defense albeit a dubious way to be remembered. The Saints’ total yards allowed this season will be remembered as being the only team in NFL history to allow more than 7,000 yards, 7,042 to be exact. The Baltimore Colts held the previous record of 6, 793 yards when they topped defensive futility back in 1981.
“You get what you deserve. You don’t play good defense, that’s what’s going to happen,” Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said after the game about the way the defense played. “Be a man and suck it up.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for 280 yards but it was running back DeAngelo Williams who hurt the Saints the most with his 210 rushing yards on 21 carries.
"Looking back at the first game, we had a lot of success running the football against them,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said following the game. And we came out here today being balanced, by running the football when we had to. And we were running it even though people knew we were going to run it. And then we passed it well too. DeAngelo (Williams) did a great job running today by breaking tackles and so did Mike Tolbert. And it’s because of those two guys that we got the big win today."
“Listen, I haven’t digested that yet. I don’t have a comment on it. It is what it is and we have to get it fixed,” was all Vitt said when asked about his defense giving up over 7,000 yards.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished 29 of 43 for 396 to give him 5,177 passing yards for the season making him the first quarterback in NFL History to pass for 5,000 yards in three different seasons. Brees threw four touchdowns as well.
The off-season now begins for the Saints and for fans the start of changing things for the better can’t come fast enough. Players apparently feel the same way. "It's going to be an eye-opener for some people, I'm sure, as it should be, because this is not our standard, what happened this year," Brees said when asked about what it’ll be like to get head coach Sean Payton back in the building. "Sean's going to come in chomping at the bit and we're going to have to be ready to roll. This off-season can't come fast enough."