Life is funny in that the memories that stick with us we don't really choose do we? I can't remember hardly anything about my wedding day, but my first date with my wife, I can tell you where it was, what she wore, shoes she had on, purse she carried, and jacket she had. I can even tell you what I wore and the exact cheese and wine we ordered. Why that day and not my wedding? I'm sure some psychologist could explain it to me.
This week you will probably read 245 pieces on the Steve Gleason punt block in 2006. Some will be well done, others not so much. I've never been comfortable giving sports some deeper meaning and making Gleason's block and the Saints return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome about resilience and rebirth of New Orleans.
New Orleans was going to rebuild and keep being New Orleans even if that magical moment by Gleason never happened. Over time the moment to me is less about New Orleans and more about Steve Gleason and how he has lived his life and battled ALS. I'd just like to thank Steve Gleason for one of the best memories Saints fans and I will ever have. It's as if Gleason climbed in all our heads and whispered, "I'm just gonna leave this here. You might need to remember it to cheer you up on a bad day or if you want to think of a great memory you had with a loved one."
If I close my eyes I can almost instantly be back in the Superdome on September 25, 2006. I've been to every big Saints game the last 25 years in the Dome and I can tell you it's never been like that, even the NFC Championship game in 2010, had a sort of nervous energy flowing through it because everyone knew the Super Bowl was close but disappointment and fear was in the air too. On September 25, 2006 there was no fear; the New Orleans Saints were home and New Orleans was going to take a break from tearing out sheetrock, fighting with FEMA, and rebuilding everything to celebrate.
There was something magical in the Dome that night right before kickoff that I can't really explain but I know I'll never experience it again. Green Day and U2 had finished with the big hyped pregame and all that was left was to play the game. As we waited for ESPN to return from commercial break and the game to start, Gnarls Barkley 'Crazy' played, and as I looked around I can remember seeing so many people smiling and a little boy dancing in a Drew Brees jersey and his dad straightening the kid's hat.
With my eyes closed I can still see Scott Fujita strip Michael Vick and Bryan Scott almost scoop the ball up and run it in for a touchdown. History wasn't meant for Scott, it was meant for Steve Gleason. The play only took 3 seconds but Gleason seemed almost in slow motion as he came through and blocked Michael Koenen's punt.
People say the Superdome has never been as loud as it was in that moment when Gleason blocked the punt. I can't really say as I drifted off into one of those few moments as a Saints fans we dream about; pure happiness. The Gleason block is why we invest way too much time and emotion in sports, because the payoff, while never guaranteed to arrive, is amazing when it finally does. When sports are great they bring us together like nothing else, so thank you Steve Gleason, for giving Saints fans and me a memory that will stay with us forever. Let's watch Steve Gleason give us pure happiness for the 1 millionth time.
Still awesome. Why is it dusty in here?
16 For 50: The Month of No Touchdowns
Since the Saints are celebrating their 50th Anniversary, every week I'm going to talk about a memorable moment from team history. Some everyone will remember and some will be odd and forgotten moments.
The Saints held the Giants without an offensive touchdown Sunday, and while it was incredible given all the injuries, the way everyone reacted you'd think we all saw something rare and not to be believed, like Big Foot.
On September 8, 1991 Steve DeBerg, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, threw a 7yard touchdown to Jonathan Hayes in the fourth quarter of a game the Saints won 17-10 in Kansas City. The Saints wouldn't allow an opposing offense to get in the end zone until October 20. The Saints defense went 4.5 games, 18 quarters, and 42 days (1 bye week squeezed in) without permitting a team to kick an extra point.
During this amazing display of defense, the Saints pulled the fun trick of beating the Philadelphia Eagles 13-6, while only having 98 yards passing on offense. That's not a misprint; ninety-BLEEPING-eight yards passing and THEY STILL WON.
The 1991 Saints basically suffocated teams to death with a pillow and 4 all-pro linebackers. They allowed 211 points the entire season(13.2 points per game), had 50 quarterback sacks, created 48 turnovers, only allowed more than 300 yards in total offense 6 times, and let only 1 team score more than 24 points.
Last Week: 2-3 Season: 6-4
Atlanta (+3) at New Orleans: I have a theory on what the Saints need to do on defense to win games even with their injury ravaged secondary. I call it my 4 and 25 Defense Theory. In the 4 and 25 Theory I don't care about yards or red zone defense, I don't even really care about points allowed. What I do care about are turnovers, sacks, and 3rd downs of more than 7 yards to go. The Saints are going to be hard pressed to stop teams consistently, even against the Giants, they didn't really stop New York from moving the ball. I believe for the Saints to have a chance in games, the defense needs to create at least four combined sacks and turnovers, against the Giants they did this with 2 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries. The second part of my formula, 25, is the conversion percentage the Saints defense needs
to hold teams in 3rd and long situations. Against the Giants, the Saints allowed Eli Manning to convert 3 of 6 3rd downs of 7 yards or more, including 1 on the final drive. The reason I'm focusing on 3rd and long is those are situations the Saints HAVE to get off the field. Even with duct tape, hobos, and a stray puppy playing in the secondary, any NFL defense needs to force a punt on 3rd and long.
Can the Saints hit those 2 goals consistently? It's gonna be hard but not impossible.
As for Monday night, I have a bad feeling. This seems like the part of the story where the Saints look terrible, all hope seems lost, and then they bounce back big and unexpectedly in San Diego next week. Drew Brees hasn't thrown an interception in 247 passes, so Jon Gruden is probably going to mention that 598 times until Brees throws 2 to the Falcons.
"This GUY, who I call 'Beautiful Brees', cause he's so pretty throwing the ball, hasn't thrown an interception in what feels like 10 years. Sean, did you know I haven't had a danish in 10 YEARS? That's FOREVER MAN."
Yeah, it's gonna be one of those kind of nights.
Think of the Saints complete lack of NFL quality corners as a chance to answer the question, “How bad would the Saints cornerbacks have to be for you to wish Jason David and Brandon Browner were still on the team?” We are about to find out. Are you ready for some sad, depressing, and awful Monday night football?
Carolina (-7) vs. Minnesota: The Panthers goofed off and let the 49ers hang around but mostly looked exactly like the 15-1 team from 2015, except for the 4 turnovers. The Panthers committed 4 turnovers and still won on basically cruise control. That's frightening.
Tampa (-5) vs. Los Angeles: So Carson Wentz is 2-0 but Jared Goff is still less active on game days than me. When he throws for 325 yards versus the Saints I'm going to punch a wall.
San Francisco (+9) at Seattle: The Seahawks regret the Jimmy Graham trade, because without Max Unger, Russell Wilson is taking a beating. That trade worked out really well for the Saints, and when the authorities put out a missing person report and locate Stephone Anthony, it will look even better.
Miami (-9.5) vs Cleveland: Only the Browns could miss out on a potential franchise quarterback (Carson Wentz) in May, then start 3 different quarterbacks in September. It's the most Browns thing ever.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.
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