Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton along the sidelines during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Redemption has many meanings when you search for it in a dictionary. Here’s my favorite ones.
"-An act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed -To reinstate in someone’s estimation or good opinion; restore to favour"
I prefer to think of the Saints playoff path and season as REDEMPSEAN, which encompasses the roller coaster that the team’s journey has been on since the 2009 Super Bowl victory.
The Saints already got a humongous ‘monkey’ off their back by winning their first career road playoff game in franchise history against the Eagles, which ended in typical ‘Saints on the road fashion’, coming down to the final minute. I wrote in a previous article that the Saints Playoff Journey ‘Should’ Be On the Road. While one road victory will not earn a clean slate, it’s a start.
The cardiac kids of the South have a giant task of ‘slaying the dragon’ on Saturday when they face the Seahawks. However, I find it very interesting, or at least coincidental that the Saints would have to beat teams down the road, on the road, that they’ve failed to beat in their backyard. I present to you some evidence.
Exhibit A: The Seattle Seahawks – We already know what happened the last time, as the Saints suffered the most one-sided loss under Sean Payton since 2007. The Saints were beat by the defending Super Bowl Champ Indianapolis Colts 41-10. I don’t have to tell you how many Saints fans still curse the name Jason David, as it has become some sort of trigger word you’d find in The Necronomicon. At any rate, after a 34-7 thrashing, a heartbreaking 41-36 loss to the Seahawks in the 2010 Wild Card Game, how fitting is it that maybe, just maybe, the third time’s a charm? Oh, and trust me, you won’t see any love from the ‘experts’. ESPN all on the Eagles, eh? Ha!
Exhibit B: The San Francisco 49ers – I don’t have to tell you, but there are fewer games I can recall in Saints history that were as heartbreaking as losing to the 49ers 36-32. When you talk about one emotional high to one emotional low, this game summed it up. We thought we’d extract some revenge last season, but were only put out of our misery, as the Ahmad Brooks interception changed the course of the Saints 2012 season. This season presented a different fortune, but the fact remains, assuming we were to beat Seattle, and the 49ers beat the Panthers, we go back to San Fran, and maybe they won’t spit on us like Eagles fans? At any rate, it’d be very interesting to see this pan out.
Exhibit C: The Carolina Panthers – Arguably, the last-minute loss against the Panthers proved to be worse than the last-minute loss against the Patriots. Why? Well, you tell me if a bye week and home game could have benefitted the Saints. The Saints showed up to stop the Panthers, but
Luke Kuechly the Panthers defense made our offense flat as nasty cola product, and we had one drive that took Cam Newton from being the cream of the crap, to the heralded miracle worker of sorts. You’ll have two very similar teams go at it Sunday, and I don’t have to tell you much about teams that play each other three times in a season (Cowboys-Giants comes to mind). They take a playoff spot, and eventually the division from the Saints, and we could respond by taking a Super Bowl appearance from them.
Exhibit D: As far as the AFC, having to choose from the Broncos, Patriots, Chargers, or Colts is quite perplexing. I would tell you the Broncos should be very concerned that they will have to face their divisional rival again, and no matter how many records greedy Peyton Manning goes after, the big one alludes him (see one and done). Then we look to the Patriots-Colts, or a battle of #12, Luck vs. Brady. With Andrew Luck’s 28-point comeback against the Chiefs, Mr. Brady and company won’t be safe, but a victory could set up another Brady vs. Brees battle, but if Manning comes out on top, we’ll just go ahead and beat you to the fact the Saints haven’t beat the Broncos since 1994 (30-28 Home Win), and Drew Brees is 2-7 against the Broncos.
Of course, for anyone waiting to blast articles like this, none of this happens unless the Saints produce a victory against the Seahawks, which has happened only once in over two years now. The Seahawks proved some vulnerability against the Cardinals, and learning a lesson from them could prove to be a leg up for Coach Payton.
We don’t have to bring it up again, but to sum it all up: Super Bowl Champions, Losers to a 7-9 Wild Card team, Heartbreaking road playoff loss as a Super Bowl favorite, Bounty Gate, and the season of road woes. To think that there’s a remote possibility that the Saints could in fact play/beat the two playoff opponents that did them in for the past two Saints playoff years, and then face the team that gave up on Drew Brees (Chargers), a 2009 rematch (Colts), Brees vs. Manning, or Brees vs. Brady makes for all sorts of tingly feelings.
We’ll know more after Saturday.