Saints vs Patriots 2013: Shades of San Francisco

Rob Carr

In gut wrenching, heartbreaking fashion, the Saints fall from the ranks of the unbeaten when they lost 30-27 to the New England Patriots Sunday. Here I present instant observations unclouded by pesky things like reflection and hindsight.

What follows these words are the ramblings of a New Orleans Saints fan, venting fresh off this agonizing loss to the "Genius and the Chosen One".

Deja vu, anyone? I swear I've seen this play out before. It was almost eerie the way the last three and a half minutes unfolded. A road game against a top five team is a cold, cruel mistress for the Saints. Well, acceptance is the first step to recovery here. Let the venting begin.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I credit the New England Patriots for executing a fantastic gameplan defensively. Bill Belichick was masterful in his preparation against Jimmy Graham and I hope all of the film of this is destroyed before any other team sees it. We all know that the folks up in Boston are good at making video disappear. The Pats defense blanketed the Saints receiving corps all game and did a great job of keeping the game in front of them. Kudos, I despise you.

Belichick Is Still A Toolbag

4th and 6 at your own 24 with less than three minutes remaining, trailing by a point and you go for it? Double middle fingers to you, buddy. Wow, what a sign of disrespect sprinkled with overconfidence. Did you see Rob Ryan's face at that moment? I felt the exact same way, and I'm pretty sure the exact same words came out of my mouth that came out of his right then. I thought Rob was gonna run (slowly, while wheezing and sweating) across the field and give Ol' Hoodie a forearm shiver for a moment there. Thankfully, Belichick's shenanigans failed, but the point was made.

Excruciating Offense

Yeah, the Saints offense was grossly inconsistent, but the Patriots offense wasn't putting on a show by any means. This Patriots offense isn't the jugular-cutting quick-strike type. No, this game like death by a thousand paper cuts. A slow, agonizingly painful bleed that wouldn't seem to stop. For all of Brady's greatness, he didn't dominate this defense. Unfortunately, at the end, he made the throw he had to. The Saints offense, on the other hand, couldn't pick up one single first down when they had to in the closing minutes. You've just gotta do better, no excuses.

Officially Screwed

Look, I've never been one who gives much credence to blame officiating for the outcome of a game, but this was just about the worst I've seen in a very long time. I'm not going to harp on call after call, but let's just look at one instance, the Brees interception early in the 4th quarter. We all saw Drew call a timeout, nothing. Then, De La Puente snaps the ball a full second after the play clock expires, nothing still. How was neither of these caught before Drew subsequently throws the pick on the play? Yes, Brees threw a terrible pass on the play, but that should've never been a play to begin with.

Stating the Obvious

If this game is played in the Superdome, the Saints win without question, but it wasn't, so the point is moot. Why'd I bring it up then? Because I'm venting here! My soapbox, no heckling! This game being played in Gillette Stadium was worth 3 to 4 points for the Pats, just what they needed.

Simply the Best

Tom Brady and Drew Brees both proved why they are in a very small group of elite quarterbacks by making big TD passes in big moments. Unfortunately, Brady made his with 5 seconds left. Both QB's have their teammates and fans believing they are in the game and will pull of the win no matter the circumstances. I was surprisingly calm even when the Saints were trailing, I just thought they were gonna pull it out. Oh so close.

Tip of the Cap

Kenny Stills. Bravo, good sir, bravo. How on Earth did he make that catch? Drew was throwing into double coverage all game, and that was the one that finds the mark? That one, at that point of the game? Freaking Saints, the opposition must hate that stuff, I love it.

Benjamin Watson. You take away Jimmy? Fine, make 'em pay Watson. He looked good when targeted, hopefully he will continue to do so this season.

Second half running game. Some may argue, with some merit, that the Saints rushed too much in the second half, but they did so pretty effectively. Unfortunately, the Pats knew what was coming in the closing minutes.

Scapegoats In Short Supply

Unlike the San Francisco game, we don't have Gregg Williams and Roman Harper to blame for this loss. Honestly, right now I don't blame Rob Ryan for the loss. A great argument can be made that his calls in the final minute were too respectful to Brady and he may have gotten away from what he instinctually is. In many ways this final minute was the polar opposite to Gregg's final minute as Saints DC. Gregg died by his own sword in the end.

Maybe Rob intended to not follow the same fatal mistake. Well, both approaches failed respectively. Yes, Ryan's coverage was soft over the middle and he was reluctant to pressure Brady in the end, but on the final play Brady put the ball exactly where it needed to be, and Jabari Greer giving up the height advantage and angle just got beat cleanly. Again, kudos, you jerk.

Ghosts of Losses Past

Okay, I may have PTSD after the Niner loss, as this was way too similar in many respects. I was suffering flashbacks and fighting a cold sweat down the stretch. Honestly though, for all of the similarities, this was a completely different experience. I watched both games in the exact same place with many of the same fans. The blaring elation of the Stills TD and the Keenan Lewis interception followed by the deafening silence of the Brady TD pass were all too familiar to the closing moments in San Francisco.

Rather than leaving for home in a bewildered rage, I just leave heartily disappointed. Playoff losses are one thing, Week 6 losses are another. The Saints gave the San Francisco game away that afternoon. Realistically, the Patriots took this one away. If you're gonna lose a game (and frankly, every team does), make it out of conference, on the road, to a QB/coach combo comparable to your own. After some reflection, this game may look less like the San Francisco game and more like that 2011 opener in Green Bay. A tough loss on the road to a top 5 QB. A loss you take notes from and get better because of.

In the end, the Saints lost and that sucks, but they as a team, and we, as fans go into the bye looking to turn the page and take the frustrations out on the rest of the schedule, starting with Buffalo. Hey, no modern team goes undefeated to a Super Bowl title anyway, right Patriots?

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