In the movie ‘The Fugitive’ Dr. Richard Kimble searches for the one-armed man who killed his wife.
On Sunday the Saints defeated a one-armed football team.
The Carolina Panthers displayed an offensive philosophy so conservative even Jim Mora thought they should have gotten more aggressive. Carolina was about as likely to throw the ball on 3rd and long as Rush Limbaugh is to help Barack Obama pass health care legislation.
Panthers coach John Fox was so scared of Jake Delhomme driving his team into the ditch he abandoned the passing game until Carolina fell behind.
Watching the Panthers offense was like a time warp back to 1972…Vince Lombardi would have loved it.
What made the game even more interesting is the Panthers could not have asked for a better script. They jumped out 14-0 which gave them the chance to keep Jake Delhomme from being involved in the game in any serious way and they still lost.
Think about that for second.
Carolina in the biggest game of the season had the game play out exactly how they wanted and they still couldn’t close the deal.
They ran the ball for 189 yards ,won the time of possession, held the Saints offense to six first half points and still didn’t even have the lead after three quarters.
You could say it either shows the depths to which Delhomme has fallen or the awesomeness of the New Orleans Saints.
I’ll go with the latter.
The Saints were extremely sloppy with dropped passes, penalties, gave up huge running plays even though they knew it was coming and had clock/timeout management issues that even Eagles coach Andy Reid thought were hideous and the Saints still won by 10.
My friends that is the very absolute definition of awesome.
I’d argue it was the Saints worst four quarters of football all year.
Yet, they are 8-0.
While falling behind consistently will eventually get you beat, these comebacks will benefit the Saints and the fans down the line.
Bradley did a great job of summing up how the Miami game made the players never think a game is out of reach.
It’s just as big for the fans.
Let’s be honest about the Saints history; it’s littered with heartbreak and failure.
A lot of times in big games we were just waiting for the Saints to show a sign they’re about to crumble, they did, and we sat petrified just waiting to have the failure crash down on our heads when the final gun sounded.
In the 1992 playoff game against the Eagles I think the fourth quarter lasted five years and the Dome was silent the entire time as the Saints blew a 20-6 lead.
It was as if everyone was just waiting for their worst fears to be realized. The same thing the year before against Atlanta in the playoffs, only that time the game went to overtime.
Hell, even right before maybe the single greatest play in Saints history, fans were searching for ledges and sharp objects to end the misery because the Rams had erased a 31-7 lead in less than 10 minutes.
When Hakim dropped the ball it was more relief than joy and if you deny it just listen to Jim Henderson’s call. I was there and literally dropped to my knees.
Momentum and crowd belief matters in sports. You can’t explain it but it does.
Players feel it when the tide turns in their favor or if the crowd senses doom.
The Chicago Cubs are a great example.
In 2003 they were mere moments from their first World Series in over 50 years. Then a fan, Steve Bartman, interferes with a Cub outfielder trying to catch a foul ball and suddenly all the fear of past Cub failures rushed back. You could feel Wrigley Field go cold.
In a matter of minutes everything fell apart for the Cubs and now their fans are so gripped with fear last year after winning 100 games their playoff appearance was a three-game wake. Cubs fans looked like someone who just watched their dog get run over during their home playoff games. They had no joy, no excitement, only fear.
When Jim Mora arrived and the Saints started winning there was a song called ‘I believe’ except we really didn’t.
We never really thought the Dome Patrol and Bobby Hebert were winning any Super Bowls...
We hoped but deep down we knew.
In 2009 we really do believe a Super Bowl is possible.
I never once doubted the Saints would win once they made the score 20-13.
I have never had this much belief in a Saints team. It does feel a little strange. My girlfriend asked me why I wasn’t nervous going into the fourth quarter.
“Carolina had their chance and blew it. Now the crowd and Drew Brees will finish them off.” I said. It wasn’t brash or cocky. I said it the way you would answer someone if they asked you what time it is.
Having Drew Brees makes you believe.
If disaster seems to hit the Saints in a playoff game the players won’t panic and neither will the fans.
Both of those things matter.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. He hosts a podcast at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/forecastradio. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook.