Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
NEW ORLEANS – For much of this past week, the buildup to the Saints’ Sunday home-opener against Chicago focused on avenging three straight Sean Payton-era losses to the Bears, including one that stopped New Orleans a game short of the Super Bowl.
Those who follow the Who Dats have long memories and what they focused on was the disrespect Bears backers thrust their way in the 2007 NFC championship game.
On Sunday, finally on home turf, the Saints returned serve for those losses, giving fans a 30-13 drubbing of the Bears – the biggest win in the series by either team since 2000, when New Orleans won by 21 points.
The win was a big one, one New Orleans had been aiming for since the schedule came out.
Receiver Devery Henderson has been on all three Saints teams that lost at Chicago and he said coming away with the victory against Chicago, one that evened New Orleans’ record to 1-1, was sweet.
He hopes it left as bitter a taste in the Bears’ (1-1) mouths as it did the Saints all those times.
But savor Sunday’s victory on Sunday and let it go.
It only means something if the Saints can follow it up in Week 3 with a win over Houston, a 2-0 team that shook up New Orleans in preseason in dominating fashion.
Lest you say it’s only preseason, remember back to after that Saturday night in Houston when folks were clamoring for information as to why New Orleans couldn’t stop the Texans’ run game, which had run amok on the Saints.
In the Payton Era, New Orleans is 0-1 against Houston, a 23-10 loss to the Texans in 2007.
Sunday, though, the Saints showed flashes of the 2009 greatness that led to special things and that can make a one-game win “streak” a tw0-game roll.
The defense and offense combined to take Chicago, a team that had dismantled New Orleans’ divisional nemesis Atlanta 30-12 a week earlier, out of its game.
When asked if Sunday was a throw-back to that 2009 winning game plan, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said yes initially, then added, “Yeah, but I guess it’s the 2011 model or let’s hope so.”
The Saints rang up 382 total yards, had a near-13 minute advantage in time of possession and was 8 of 17 on third downs.
Meanwhile, New Orleans held Chicago to 246 total yards, sacked quarterback Jay Cutler six times and held the Bears to 2 of 12 on third downs.
More importantly, New Orleans gave up only 60 yards rushing.
It was the effort the Saints needed, both on offense and defense, coming off of the season-opening 42-34 loss to Green Bay.
The next step is carrying the momentum forward this next week.
Only then will we know what these Saints could be the rest of the seaon.