NEW ORLEANS — The 2022 New Orleans Saints delivered one final maximum shot of agony to our bloodstream.
In fact they did it twice. We were forced to watch them lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice in heartbreaking fashion because the first time did not count because of a penalty. Being forced to watch it once was not enough football pain for us to endure in 2022.
The 2022 Saints became the second team in the last 20 years to have a 3rd and 1 on the opponents side of the field up at least nine with less than six minutes to go and lose. I am still numb from it.
The Saints were in complete control of the game for 57 minutes, and they looked as if they had grabbed their final shot in 2022 to make something of their season. And then Tom Brady ripped their heart out, showed it them, and set it on fire in a 17-16 defeat.
The loss is on Mark Ingram, who stepped out of bounds short of the marker when one more first down probably wins the game. The loss is on Taysom Hill for dropping a perfect game-clinching throw from Andy Dalton. The loss is on Paulsen Adebo for committing the one penalty the Saints absolutely could not commit. The loss is on Dennis Allen for having an undisciplined team that commits stupid penalties - like 12 men in the huddle inside the five yard line that turned a potential touchdown into a field goal.
We want someone or something to blame, but 2022 is just a rotten football season. It is bad playing, bad coaching, bad injuries, and bad luck. Bad everything.
After week one, Jameis Winston was asked where was the pain from his injury. He responded, "Pain everywhere." That is true for him and true for us for the entire 2022 Saints football season.
Put it on a t-shirt and use it as the title of the Saints season recap.
I said in my Thursday preview column that "true sports heartache must be preceded by the most dangerous thing: hope." The Saints gave the hope and then delivered excruciating heartbreak that is likely to define Dennis Allen as a coach and Mark Ingram as a player.
The Saints probability to win the game when they had a 3rd and 1 after Ingram inexplicably stepped out of bounds short of first down with under six minutes to go: 98.7%
Besides the misery we Saints fans feel everywhere, I probably feel the worst for Andy Dalton. The man has played as well as he possibly can for the last three weeks, and he's been let down at every big moment. You want them to start Jameis? Fine, whatever. Let Andy go on vacation five weeks early. He deserves it.
Jarvis Landry, Taysom Hill and Chris Olave all had gigantic game changing drops.
How did a defense that looked as it was going to hold Tom Brady out of the endzone for 12 straight quarters in Tampa become utter shambles in the final 5:21 of the game? When the Saints defense needed just one more play, they failed entirely.
The Saints defense even created two turnovers for the first time since week one!
The defensive line deserves a giant slice of blame pie for this football anguish. They were facing a makeshift Buccaneers offensive line filled with backups, given a 13 point lead, and couldn't muster a sack on either of Tampa's final two drives, and collected only one the entire game.
Drew Brees faked his own death by lightning strike while promoting some gambling website last week, but football lightning destroyed the Saints 2022 season once and for all. It was bright, it was spectacular, and it cause complete devastation in what felt like seconds.
The Saints season is dead. It is over. There's absolutely nothing left worth playing for except pride and employment.
There will be plenty of time to shift through all the wreckage that is the 2022 Saints football season, but right now I need a drink, a hug, some therapy, and, most of all, a break from the torture of the 2022 Saints.
Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.
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