NEW ORLEANS — Roman Harper isn’t prescient.
He doesn’t know what’s going to happen next Sunday when the Saints take to the road once more for what is the next big game.
But what he does know is that, even after dominating a good Carolina team 31-13, there will still be questions about New Orleans.
“People are still going to say the same things – ‘Well, they’re good at home, this and that about the road or weather whatever whatever,’ ” Harper said. “So, we understand that.”
What the 18-point win over Carolina did answer was which team would begin the final three weeks with the No. 2 seed advantage.
Score one for the Saints.
While Harper also couldn’t have told people this past week what the result would be, he did have a good feeling.
“I knew how intentional we were going to be,” Harper said. “I knew the attitude, the sense of purpose that we had all week and how we needed to come out and perform and play today. It was definitely a sense of urgency. It was a different week for us. We couldn’t wait to get last week out of our mouths.”
Ah, “last week.”
That Seattle loss, even after the important win over Carolina, makes it to where we can’t be sure anything grand is in store for the Saints, even after a win like Sunday night’s.
Folks, including this writer, wondered how the Saints would handle a team much like Seattle six days after playing the Seahawks. Carolina is built in the mold of a great, physically-imposing defense complemented by a methodical, ball-control offense, much like the conference-leading Seahawks.
Well, New Orleans shut down a team that had been rolling through opponents with a stifling defense and a clutch offense.
After allowing Carolina to 4-for-6 on third down while gaining 79 yards on the first two series, New Orleans allowed the Panthers to convert just two more third downs and gain just 160 more yards, keeping them to nearly 100 yards below their season average.
A week after gaining just 188 total yards, the Saints put up almost 400 against one of the league’s stingiest defenses. New Orleans also scored 31 points on a team that led the NFL in scoring defense, holding its previous 12 opponents to an average of 13 per game.
You get the impression that as much as they were talking about how big the Carolina game was, they believed it to be that much bigger behind closed doors.
“Tto go out and play the way we did today, we got our confidence back and kind of got our swagger back,” linebacker Curtis Lofton said. “And that’s Saints football, what you saw out there today. I don’t know what that was last week.”
New Orleans lost control of the No. 1 seed with the loss to Seattle. It couldn’t afford to hand away control of the No. 2 position six days later.
For once, those donning the all black Sunday night were willing to admit it.
“We came in here with the right attitude, a playoff-type mentality and we know if we were going to take this division we needed to have this game,” Harper said. “That was the whole mentality all week. We talked about it and we made no bones about it.”
Now it’s off to the next big game, on the road.
Time to answer more questions.