Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
NEW ORLEANS ― The cheers erupted just after halftime began as the public address announcer introduced the 610 Stompers, the all-men dance troupe that’s big on moves with tons of spirit.
They were about the only thing native to New Orleans in the Superdome that had moves and spirit Thursday night and they certainly elicited the night’s loudest cheer.
New Orleans turned the ball over five times, took a safety early, gave up four scoring drives of five or fewer plays and was thoroughly outplayed in a 32-9 loss to Tennessee.
But the question is who cares?
Apparently few fans did. At least half, if not more, of the Superdome was empty despite the hilariously announced 72,667 attendance figure.
And truth is there was little to care about or take from Thursday’s fourth preseason game.
That anyone had to pay for going to the game, let alone full price, is a mockery of fans everywhere.
Yet, New Orleans got what it needed mostly from the game –everyone got out of the game without being injured and really, that’s all the fans could have asked for.
As long as the Saints are setup to win beginning in Week 1, does it really matter, money aside, what happens in the finale of the preseason?
The only thing of note from Thursday night came in the kicking game. Newly-signed kicker John Kasay missed a 39-yard field goal wide left, the pushed a point-after left as well.
Not that that’s what you’ll hear from those inside the Saints locker room.
“It always eats at you,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “It’s the miscues. It’s the sacks for a safety. It’s the interceptions and fumbles. Those things bug you. Regardless of who’s playing, those are signs of sloppy play.”
Added backup linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, “In a sense you always want to get out of a game without any injuries. But you still want to see some bright things, do some good things. And that’s what I don’t think we did much of today.
“There were some good things and some bad things. But given the situation, you still want to play well and want to do the right things and make plays out there. And again, you never want to lose.”
Truth is, though, no one took Thursday’s game seriously.
Those who were making the miscues, throwing the interceptions and allowing the sacks aren’t going to be here next week.
For the bubble players, the bubble likely burst against Tennessee because of the performance. Few players played well enough to work their way onto the team and now the Saints’ brass must take the roster from 80 players to 53 by Saturday afternoon.
Thursday night likely made that easier and, truth be told, while Payton won’t say they were looking ahead to next Thursday’s opener at Green Bay, now they can honestly move on and speak about the reigning Super Bowl champions.
“We have to,” Payton said when asked if he can put this game behind him.
“That being said, you have to look at it. You don’t cover it up or sugar coat it. But you’ve got to look at it and make the corrections. There are a handful of guys that were on that field that are going to be on the team next week.”