In case you missed it, or live in a bubble, the Saints fell short (well, way short) in their bid to make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Well, they did accomplish making it into their first NFC Championship. Baby steps, kids...baby steps.
Let's face it--the Bears dismantled us in the latter stages of the third quarter. Coming out of halftime, the Saints stopped the Bears offense and forced a punt. They drove down the field, then had their own drive stall at the Bear 30. Field goal time...remember when a coach was faced with a decision to go for the first down or kick a field goal and that was the only decision he had to make? Those were the good ole days. Now, a coach, specifically those named Payton, had not only that decision, but the hard decision on whether to go with your veteran, near 100% accurate kicker or your lame-ass "big-leg" kickoff specialist kicker. I'm not one to jump all over Sean Payton for his decision making, but this was the most piss-poor decision he's made all season. I guess he decided to save the best for last. Anyhow, Payton trots the world-wide known Billy Cundiff out to attempt a 47 yard field goal...in freezing rain...on shitty sod...with the wind in his face. Cundiff's "big leg" got the ball all the way underneath the crossbar. Too bad "almost" only counts in horshoes and hand grenades. Maybe it's just me, but I would think that John Carney would know a little more about kicking in adverse conditions than the placekicking guru Billy Cundiff. Woof.
I think the Cundiff Experiment was the turning point in the game. Most people will point to Drew Brees' "maybe they won't notice that I threw the ball before the line of scrimmage in the endzone" cotastrophe as the turning point, but it was Cundiff's failure to give the Saints the lead that started the momentum swing. Drew's mishap only fortified the Bears' drive to finish us off. And they did...pretty handily.
Well, as Saints fans we have no right to complain about the game. The Saints were picked by many "experts" to hand the first selection card in the NFL Draft to Commisioner Goodell in April. We really screwed the "experts," didn't we?
While the Saints surely overachieved this season, they made good on a few things. The first is that they've made New Orleans a much more attractive spot for free agents. And, with the glaring need at cornerback (*cough* Asante Samuel *cough*) and possibly linebacker and defensive line, it should be much easier to lure free agents into the city to play for the Saints. Have faith, Saints fans....something we've heard all to often. The only thing is that this time, it's different. Faith is real. Hope is strong. The Saints are here and are for real. It's going to be an interesting offseason--one where we might see some of our most well-known guys leave, like Joe Horn and Charles Grant. One where the Saints will pick 28th in the first round of the draft, barring a trade. So, stay tuned. I'll try to post mindless bull squash on what I think the Saints should do and might consider regarding player personnel during the offseason...it looks to be great fun.