Monday, October 17, 2005


Normally I don't write about football. It's just not worth it. Most people aren't as fanatic about it as I am and I just wind up coming off as crazy. Well, today I'm going to be cRAaAaZaAzZy!

Last week's 52-3 loss by the Saints in Green Bay was tough to swallow, but ultimately expected. The Packers were 0-4 and had lost two straight at home. They were due for a win, and when you're due for a win there's no better team to have in town (or go into their place) than the Saints. We've given quite a few expansion teams their first win (most notably the '77 Bucs, who were 0-14 their inaugural season and 0-12 the following year before beating us. We gave up an insane Hail Mary pass as time expired in a game against the new Cleveland Browns. It was from Tim Couch, no less). We've also watched the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars come into the league in 1996 and immediately go 7-9 their first years and walk straight into the conference championship games the next. Two years and they were playing to go to the Super Bowl! Meanwhile we didn't get a playoff win, period, until 2000. And we've been playing since 1967.

This week we played the Atlanta Falcons. If an entire fanbase of a team could be rendered braindead with a brain-neutralizing bomb that's yet to be invented, it'd be a hard choice whether it'd be Atlanta's or the New York Jets', but I'd settle on Atlanta because they're in our division.

Anyway, the game. Considering we had 52 straight points laid on us by Green Bay, the field goal by Atlanta brought some hope. "If we could get 52 laid on us after leading by 3, now that we're down by 3 maybe we'll lay 52 on these guys," I said to my buddies Jason and Pedro. That's the kind of optimism a Saints fan has. I also mentioned to Jason earlier in the day that if we had to lose, I'd much prefer the blow-out to the near-loss. At least with the blow-out you resign yourself to it because there's that "Well, there's no turning back" moment, usually when the opponent's 28th straight point is on the board.

Lo and behold, though, the Saints played a pretty good game. We wound up with over 200 yards rushing even though we are without Deuce McAllister, probably the team's best player, for the rest of the year. Aaron Brooks, the human mistake-waiting-to-happen, had only thrown one interception (it was in the 4th quarter and put the team in the position to have to tie the game with a touchdown instead of potentially going up by a touchdown, but hey, these are the types of plays we expect from Brooks. You know the Juggs machine that receivers use to practice their catching? I'm convinced that if one were to be made for defensive backs to practice interceptions on the company designing it would base if off of Brooks' passes. Only every tenth pass or so would go for a touchdown, just enough to keep the mechanics in constant puzzlement about what's wrong with the machine.).

The Saints tie the game with 40 seconds remaining (after calling timeouts with over a minute to go, almost like they were conserving time for the Falcons), giving Michael Vick way too much time to get in place for a game-winning field goal, especially since they had, oh, all of their timeouts. As the announcers said the Falcons had to get to the Saints 40 yard line to be in field goal range, they got there. A penalty on the Saints for having 12 men on the field moved them up another 5 yards, and just like that Todd Peterson was to attempt a 41 yard field goal. "Not a gimme," I said. I've seen plenty of 41+ field goals go awry. Hell, I've even seen a game-tying extra point attempt pushed to the right (I'm looking at YOU, John Carney).

Aaaaand....he MISSES it! We're going to over...oh, wait. A flag. The Saints are penalized five yards for holding while they were BLOCKING A FIELD GOAL. A player blocked a Falcons player (who then fell on the Saint) so a teammate could rush through the gap and try to block the field goal. Evidently that's illegal, but the twist is that the only reason the Saints tried it was because they'd seen the FALCONS THEMSELVES do it the previous week and not get flagged for it. With the extra five yard cushion, Peterson knocks it through and Saints coach Jim Haslett has what's probably his thirteenth coronary of the season.

To make matters worse, we were absolutely hosed earlier in the game on two plays:

1) Near the end of the first half, Az Hakim (and by the way, has there been a player who has lost as much speed as he has as quickly as he has? He'd outrun top-flight corners earlier in his career, and it's like some supervillain with gravity powers zapped him, making him twenty pounds heavier somewhere on his flight from Detroit to New Orleans) was robbed of a touchdown by an insidious fakeout by DeAngelo Hall. Hakim was called for offensive pass interference for pushing off, only the replay shows the Hall deliberately fell down when he realized he misplayed the ball.

A couple of plays later,

2) John Carney's field goal is blocked when the snap is high and returned for a touchdown to end the half. Only the replay shows a Falcon using another player for leverage. He leapfrogs somebody and blocks the field goal. Which, last I checked, was illegal.

It's useless complaining about referees. It's not like they're going to go back and give us the touchdown or take back the Falcons'. But what are we supposed to do when they essentially take 7 points from us and gives the touchdown to the Falcons? Just take it? In fact, that should be the new slogan for the Saints' fanbase. Not "You Gotta Have Faith," but "Just Take It."

So the game is done, we'll likely end up 2-14 (especially if the refs keep spotting our opponents points), so maybe we'll get in the Matt Leinart sweepstakes after all. After everything that's happened in the New Orleans area over the past six weeks, we've taken "Just Take It" to a new level. But you know we'll continue to Just Take It, because we are, after all, Saints fans.
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