December 30, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt embraces quarterback Drew Brees (9) prior to kickoff of a game against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints went into the season finale against the Carolina Panthers with the mindset to “Finish Strong” and close their roller coaster ride of a year with an 8-8 record. They did everything but that.
What is most puzzling about the 44-38 loss to the Panthers is that for a while the Saints appeared to be in control during the third quarter when they held a 24-13 lead.
Then as the game went on, the finish was anything but strong. In fact the Saints didn’t even look like they were ready to finish but were finished completely as the Panthers rolled up 530 yards of offense over the defense of the Black and Gold.
Speaking of defense, the Saints defensive unit actually acquired the record for most offensive yards allowed in a single season at 7,042 and made their mark in NFL history surpassing the 1981 Baltimore Colts who previously held the record at 6,793 yards.
Of those 530 yards the Saints defense gave up, 210 of those yards came from running back DeAngelo Williams who seemed at times to easily bowl defenders over and break numerous tackles.
The offense wasn’t without it’s woes though. Even though quarterback Drew Brees threw for 396 yards and had four touchdowns, he threw a costly interception that swung momentum to the Panthers who rallied a comeback and a touchdown off of it.
Dazzling throws and incredible catches(wide receiver Lance Moore had a beauty) seemed to be followed by drops and a lack of execution. It was better said by offensive tackle Zach Strief who told CBS Sports after the game, “The only thing we were consistent at was being inconsistent.”
Brees stated in a press conference after the game that the offseason couldn’t come fast enough. If you ask a majority of Saints fans, they’ll most likely tell you the same thing.
In the end it’s the fans, who have such a connection to their team, who’ve had to suffer as headline after headline surfaced against the Saints starting in March of this year involving the bounty scandal and subsequent suspensions.