Putting win in perspective makes Saints great
It's OK to crack a smile Sale Alpinestars Motorcycle Jackets - Cheap Alpinestars Jackets Store, Sean Payton. Your team is pretty good.
Although you wouldn't know it, looking at the scowl on Payton's face with under three minutes remaining as he chewed out an official for what he thought was a questionable holding call, Payton's Saints had just turned in what was a few special-teams yips away from a perfect performance.
Forget a perfect season for now. The Saints just flew about as close to the sun as you can get in one of the biggest games ever at the Superdome.
Of course, Drew Brees also would scoff at that. Like coach, like quarterback. When asked after the game by ESPN sideline reporter Suzy Kolber about delivering a perfect game Absence of Patriots' Wright puts onus on Wilfork_292, Brees gave the company line: "It was far from perfect, trust me."
Fine. Then how about this: The Saints are marvelously and wonderfully flawed.
They could do no wrong Monday night, quashing the sentiment that the game meant more to the three-loss Patriots than it did to the Saints, who probably will cruise to a division title.
Want to revisit that thought? Not that New England didn't want to win. It was that the Saints felt they had to win to be taken seriously.
And you have to like that about them. They want to be good. They want to be the "overdogs."
In an NFL that is oversaturated with players and teams who prefer to be disrespected atriots positional anal, the Saints want the glory. They want what the Patriots have had.
Before the Colts won a Super Bowl, they had to act like a team that belonged. They could have played the poor-me card all day and night after annual beatings from the Patriots, but they flipped it on its head, beat the Patriots in the AFC title game and slayed the dragon in the process.
The Saints know this is just one step of the way, but a big one. A lesser team would trumpet this as its regular-season Super Bowl. But Payton and Brees have cast their unsatisfied shadow all over this roster. This team appears to know better than to get too moved by a regular-season win against a non-conference opponent it probably won't see again this season.
"We're glad we won, we're excited," an even-keeled Payton said afterward.
Brees and the offense clearly were humming. Take Marques Colston away, as the Patriots did early, and the Saints will throw it to the open guy. There's one or more on just about every play. The 75-yard touchdown to Devery Henderson was more shocking from the Patriots' defensive perspective, but every opponent knows that this team can sting you in a variety of ways from just about anywhere on the field with just about any formation.
"We had a few busted coverages, guys cutting loose," Belichick acknowledged.
And unless you're perfect defensively, you're not going to stop this team very much. From Brees to this six-deep group of receivers to the terrific offensive line and the stable of backs, there's depth and skill everywhere offensively.
But neglecting to mention what this team did defensively Monday night Alpinestars A-10 Air Flo Pants, as it has done much of the season, would be criminal.
This was the best defensive performance of the season by the Saints. Period. Forget the raw numbers. Turning Tom Brady and Co. into a scatterbrained unit was tremendous. And it might be the game that gets Gregg Williams another head-coaching opportunity.
Williams was asked to stop Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker without his top three cornerbacks, three very good defenders. Chris McAlister and Mike McKenzie have been on the roster a few weeks combined, and rookie Malcolm Jenkins only about seven months more. And yet Williams didn't get away from what he does well: mixing coverages with blitzes, playing man defense and trying to be physical at the point of attack.
You can't back down from a team like the Patriots, hoping not to get beat deep. And so Williams took McAlister and McKenzie, two man corners, and asked them to play teeth-gritting man coverage. On many plays the Saints dropped eight into coverage, so they knew they had help over the top if they missed a tackle or jumped a route. On others, the pressure threw off the timing of Brady and his receivers. It was a brilliant game plan.
And how else do you help a battered secondary? Keep the pedal to the metal offensively. I thought Payton should have gone for it on fourth down to send an early message to the Patriots on the first drive of the game. But he stayed in control and kicked the field goal. Only later would he show his patented aggressiveness, once he knew there was blood in the water against the Patriots' outmanned defense.
"I don't know how else to say it. They were better than us in every phase of the game," a very complimentary Belichick said. "They were clearly the better team tonight." The fact that he went out of his way to find Brees at midfield after the game and congratulate him speaks to just how much the coach thought of this Saints team, I think.
There will be talk of NFL scoring marks and an undefeated season over the next five weeks, and both are certainly possible. The Redskins, hard as they are playing lately, are 3-8. The two remaining road games are against the Falcons and Panthers, both of whom could be without their starting quarterbacks because of injury. That leaves a good but unpredictable Cowboys team at the Dome on a Saturday night (think the crowd will be jacked for that one?) along with the 1-10 Buccaneers.
But all that is ancillary. Payton and Brees, who are not going to demand anything less than perfection (even if it's unattainable in their eyes), only care about the looming playoffs. If it means losing a game in the regular season to achieve the ultimate goal — Saints fans, tickled as they are, appear scared to even say the words "Super" and "Bowl" in the same sentence just yet — then so be it.
And though part of Payton would like to look around a little and smile at what's going on in this gilded season, you know he won't do it yet. It's part of what it takes to be the best.
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