It has been over three months, but the pain still feels fresh. That one hurt more than any other Saints game I’ve ever watched. The closest comparison would be the divisional round game against the 49ers in 2011. That Saints team, like this one, felt like a Lombardi hoisting team, with a four-headed monster in the backfield and Brees, Graham, and Sproles all having career years. The offense was unstoppable averaging 34.2 points a game which was the fourth most all time. But somehow that team lost in a shootout in the divisional round to the 49ers. Drew Brees lost a shootout to Alex Smith; it was difficult to process. But, unlike this year’s loss to the Vikings that game never felt locked up, it never had that “it’s finally over” moment.
When Keenum threw an incomplete pass and the clock ticked down to ten seconds, I relaxed. For the first time in three hours, I relaxed. With the Vikings on their own 39-yard line and no timeouts, nothing could go wrong. My mind even drifted to how much fun writing an article about the Saints miraculous comeback was going to be. Then everything went to shit.
Even though the season ended in a loss, it’s difficult not to be happy with a lot of the things that happened this year. After three trying years in a row during which the Saints not only failed to make the playoffs, but also failed to have a winning season this new version of the Saints was a breath of fresh air. Between finally fielding a defense which wasn’t analogous to a torn sieve and having a strong running game our prayers had been answered. With one of the greatest draft classes of all time and veterans like Jordan and Ingram having career years, there was a lot to be excited about. The Saints are now anchored by a group of very talented young players and still have Brees at the helm, they have re-opened their championship window and should be a serious contender for the rest of 9’s career.
Speaking of Brees, the off-season is also going well. He re-signed on a team-friendly two-year deal worth 25 million a year, considering the quarterback situation around the league and the contracts signed by Garoppolo and Cousins, Brees likely could have gotten 30 million a year from other teams. They also signed Ben Watson, Kurt Coleman, Patrick Robinson, and Demario Davis all of whom look like they will be key contributors next year. The Saints have placed themselves in the enviable position of being able to pick the best available player in the upcoming draft. They have no glaring holes and considering the success the Saints have had drafting the last couple of years they look to be in a strong position to capitalize. We have a lot to look forward to.
COVER PHOTO: theadvocate.com