Week 7: Magic, fate in the Saints win over Ravens

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What we saw in the Saints, Ravens game on Sunday in Week 7 might have gone beyond just good, hardnosed play. There was some “magic” involved too.

From my writing, many will find me to be highly critical of the New Orleans Saints. Lovingly critical, but critical nonetheless. I sometimes look too hard at details and flaws. So you’ll have to forgive me if I view Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens through a different lens; one of optimism. It’s ok. It’s guarded optimism.

It’s not simply because the Saints finally defeated the Ravens for the first time since Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been in New Orleans. It’s not just because of the way the Saints played and won ugly. And it’s not because Brees got another record in the books. But that is some kind of milestone. It’s because of those moments you watch during the season and wonder if you’re seeing the “magic” of a special season.

Sunday’s game brought me back to two separate seasons and events that led to wildly different results.

In 2003, the Saints were on the playoff bubble as they went to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. They went into the game 7-7, looking for a wild card spot. The game was all but lost as the Saints faced a second and 10 from their own 25 with only six seconds left on the clock, down 20-13. Aaron Brooks completes a pass to Donte’ Stallworth and this was the beginning of the River City Relay. 75 yards and three laterals later Jerome Pathon scored a TD for the Saints which put them down by one point.

All that was left was for the Saints to put up a PAT and they tie that game and send it to overtime and still have playoff hopes. The game rested in the veteran, reliable boot of John Carney. Carney misses the PAT and the Saints playoff hopes are dashed.

At the time, it seemed just like typical Saints luck. And it was highly reminiscent of Sunday’s game, where Baltimore drove the field on the Saints late and had a chance to tie the game with a PAT.

Fast forward to 2009. There were two moments in 2009 that were telling about the future. One was the game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami. Down 24-3 with just seconds left to play before halftime, Drew Brees goes over the top, reaching across for a TD to end the half and get the Saints to within 14.

What happened in the second half of that game was magic. I remember it vividly because I was there. The Saints scored five second half TDs, two defensively, while holding the Dolphins to 10 second half points, to storm back and beat the Dolphins. There were thousands of Saints fans there and the team went around the field high-fiving those that made the trip as they went to 6-0.

Six games later, the Saints went to Washington to face the Redskins. As they were driving at the end of the first half, Brees throws a poor pass in the direction of Jeremy Shockey. The pass is intercepted and the Redskins are returning the pick. As they are making the return, Robert Meacham hits the DB making the return and simply rips the ball from his arms, takes it out of his hands. Meacham returns the forced fumble for a TD.

Not only was that one of the oddest plays in Saints history, it was one of the most interesting in terms of fate, or karma, or whatever you might want to call it. That’s a play that went against the Saints in other years. That’s the opposite of Carney missing the PAT. Logic says it’s the Saints doing what winning teams do, forcing their will on others.