Handwerger: Saints answer challenge, fling monkey off their back

Handwerger: Saints answer challenge, fling monkey off their back

Credit: AP

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Detroit Lions Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 8, 2012 at 1:35 AM

Updated Sunday, Jan 8 at 10:58 AM

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

Opinion/Analysis


NEW ORLEANS ― For once, Jabari Greer didn’t espouse clichés, didn’t bury the honesty that all athletes try to avoid weekly when speaking with reporters.

Exactly a full year since the Saints lost at Seattle in their post-Super Bowl follow-up, Greer can move on from that game.

The Saints beat Detroit 45-28 in their wild card match-up Saturday night, slaying any demons that stuck around from that cold day in the Pacific Northwest.

So, the question for Greer was this – was the Seattle game weighing on him and on the Saints?

“The truth is yes,” Greer said. “But I don’t want to say that because I guess it’s not popular. We take it one game at a time, but we understood that feeling that we felt on the bus after we lost to Seattle. Then I wake up and see Matt Hasselbeck talking on ESPN today.

“We can’t feel that way again. We have to focus. We have to do what we came here to do.”

Against the Lions, the Saints got everything they could have possibly wanted – adversity and an answer. Oh yeah, and a win.

They got punched in the mouth and they responded.

Responded in such a positive way you have to wonder if maybe they are the Super Bowl favorites after all.

“They’re a good team,” linebacker Scott Shanle said. “It was just a matter of time. This was the perfect game for us to see how we could overcome some adversity. The past couple of weeks, it was us jumping out to leads. It was good to see the way we overcame.”

The Saints went down 7-0 early, then 14-7.

The Lions moved the ball, driving 199 yards in the first three series.

New Orleans, meanwhile, fumbled on two or its first three series, ending drives prematurely.

Then they answered.

The Lions gained only 213 yards the rest of the game, turning the ball over twice.

The Saints didn’t turn the ball over again and scored on six consecutive drives.

By the final score, the memory of Seattle was long gone.

“The mindset for us was to go have fun and play football,” receiver Robert Meachem said. “Stop being so uptight. I think we made the game more than what it was because we lost last year. I think we wanted to get back to being us on offense, defense and special teams.”

And now they go to San Francisco.

They’ll begin to hear that the Saints haven’t won a playoff game on the road, hear that they’re a dome team that won’t be able to compete in the natural environment.

Quarterback Drew Brees doesn’t buy it. Not from this Saints team

“I feel like our offense and our team is built for whatever condition,” New Orleans’ field general said. “We play indoors here in the Superdome and that’s what we’ve been doing as of late, but we feel like we’re the type of team that should be able to go anywhere, anytime and play our type of football that we know how to play.”

He added, “I don’t see any reason why we can’t go on and continue to be productive.”

Indeed, there isn’t a reason.

Because at this point, there’s no reason not to believe that the only team stopping the Saints are the Saints themselves.
 

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