Do you believe? I hope so, because what I just saw might be best described as, “Heaven sent.” Or maybe, “Gifted.” Or how about, “Well I’ll be damned, the Chargers fumbled again.” However you want to put it, the New Orleans Saints grabbed an errant opportunity by the throat in San Diego and didn’t let go until the Black and Gold secured their first win of the season.
Yes, I laughed at writing, “secured,” as well, because that game was nowhere close to secure. Actually, the contest wasn’t unlike the fifth hour of a crawfish boil, that magical time where the multitude of poor decisions is only outnumbered by the amount of items being dropped into the dirt.
Or maybe there was just too much hot sauce in everyone’s bag, swag (No, I don’t understand that reference, either). Either way, it was a day that saw Drew Brees, a.k.a Captain America, throw more than a handful of bad passes — including two interceptions — and the Saints running game remain permanently in neutral, and the offense not tally more than 300 yards. So, obviously, it was the recipe for the Saints cracking the win column for the first time in 2016.
I’m sure it was exactly as Sean Payton drew it up earlier this week out on Airline Drive. Let’s flash to a totally fictional scenario that I just made it up.
INTERNATIONAL SAINTS HEADQUARTERS
Sean Payton divulges his secret plan to defeat the Chargers.
PAYTON – Now listen guys. Here’s the only way we’re going to win. We’ll have the ball trailing by, oh I don’t know, let’s say 13 points with 6:53 left in the game. Instead of going for it on fourth down we’ll punt the ball away. Even though we’re trailing by 13 points and our defense has already given up 34 points.
Payton continues to reveal his diabolical master plan. Yours truly is sitting in the back of the room because this is fiction. I’m also eating a taco.
PAYTON – So, now the Chargers will have the ball, up 13 points, feeling way too confident. Which will lead them to fumble on first down, we’ll get the ball, score a touchdown, and kick the ball to them again. Then, and this is where it gets really good — they’ll fumble again without us even touching the running back. We’ll get the ball, score a touchdown, and somehow hold on for sweet victory. Whodat!
That was all made up, and I hope you didn’t really need me to tell you that.
But why not a work of fiction to capture what happened on Sunday? The story that unraveled in that groovy coastal town known as San Diego was way too bizarre to NOT be true. Did you really think when the Saints punted the ball away that we were going to be singing their praises this week? Really?
So let’s be happy. Let’s talk about how the first big fumble was set up by a hard hit by the rookie safety Vonn Bell. Let’s talk about how the biggest catch of the season — a fourth down touchdown catch — was by the rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas. Heck, talk about how, in a truly mind-blowing string of bad free-agent pick ups, linebacker Craig Robertson might be the team’s defensive MVP so far this year. And, oh yeah, there was a Nick Fairley sighting!
While we’re standing around the water cooler, I guess we might as well talk about how the Saints are obviously going to make the playoffs. No, seriously. Look I get it, you’re a scientist and it’s hard to wrap your logical, mathematical mind around the fact of a playoff run but check this out, Einstein: The Saints are obviously not going to get into the dance by way of wild card. There are just too many real deal Holyfield teams out there that the Saints won’t catch. But it’s not far-fetched to think the division might, once again, be heading towards another year where a 9-7 team could be playoff bound.
The Buccaneers are hurting. Doug Martin is out for another two weeks and Jameis Winston is throwing the ball way too much (44 times a game) and to the wrong team (eight interceptions). The Bucs have now put up seven points in half of their games so far this year. They’re done.
And what happened to the Carolina Panthers? That mystery ranks right up there with others such as, “Who am I going to punch the next time my car falls into a three-foot pothole and the oil pan cracks?” And, “Why did Tom Benson and Drew Brees want to destroy the Fly, anyway?” And my favorite, “What is a ‘Metairie’? Am I even saying that right?”
I’ll assume the Panthers will start winning some games, but they have lost to a no-name quarterback in Denver and a well-known no-name quarterback in Sam Bradford.
Who’s left? Oh right, the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, they beat the Saints in the Superdome but as every good New Orleans fan knows…Atlanta is goin’ to Atlanta. Matt Ryan and company just don’t have “it” going down the stretch. The Falcons have posted an 8-16 record in the back half of the past three seasons. The team just collapses. Forget them.
So, what do we have? The Saints still have a pair of games against Carolina and Tampa Bay and end the season on Jan. 1 in Atlanta with what, no matter how unfathomable right now, could be a game with big-time implications.
Keep hope alive and have a good time this week, homeys.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Courtyard Brewing’s “Don’t Worry About the Future” Brown Ale
Playlist Recommendation: Culture Club – “It’s a Miracle”
Around the Way
Speaking of a good time, can I get a Roll Wave, my brothers and sisters? The Tulane Green Wave went on the road and beat the UMass Minutemen, 31-24, to move to 3-2 on the year. Now, UMass won’t strike fear into the hearts of many programs, but when you’re rebuilding, and reimagining, a team like coach Willie Fritz is doing it’s not about what the other teams are doing, it’s about what you’re doing. And what the Green Wave are doing is quite impressive.
It’s about as anecdotal as you can get but when good things are happening, when programs are starting to turn corners, you see a lot of, “first time they,” and, “hasn’t been done since,” quotes being thrown around. This week was no different. The Green Wave are – above .500, after five games, for the first time since 2013. Tulane has finished its non-conference schedule with a winning record for the first time since 2004. After trailing by double digits, Tulane came back to win the game for the first time since 2009. See? Play along. It’s fun. Good things are happening in Uptown and you should get in on the action.
Tulane has a big game on the road this Friday against the UCF Knights, another program on the upswing, at 7 p.m. Another Tulane victory would have the Green Wave returning to Yulman Stadium with a 4-2 record. Would that get you to come to the game? Because, even with all of the positive buzz around the football program, the home crowds have been more than lackluster. So, my friends, don’t just talk about Tulane football, GO SEE TULANE FOOTBALL.