The Saints Are Playing Not to Lose

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If the Saints want to make any noise in the playoffs, it's time they get back to finishing strong.

I don't know if any of you guys will remember this, but it is quite an interesting take and I think it is something that needs to be addressed within the Saints organization. Back during the Saints' Super Bowl run, their team motto was "Finish Strong". It seemed to be extremely effective, as the Saints followed up three regular season losses with the most important piece of their team history: a world championship.

Some time after the victory, the Saints decided to take measures that are sometimes used in a childhood setting. Somewhere in the Metairie area the team buried their 2009 "Finish Strong" gear in a time capsule to simulate putting the season behind them.

Fast forward to the 2013 season and the Saints are having a little bit of trouble putting games away. They squeaked out of Atlanta after nearly allowing the Dirty Birds to snatch the game away, but the main examples are two games that they have surrendered in the last minute of the ball game.

The New England game, the first of the two, seemed like it was a game that could never end. Tom Brady got the ball three times in the final three minutes and the Saints' offense kept committing penalties that stopped the clock. With a drive with 2:16 to play, the Saints' offense was only able to to go backwards, losing 2 yards on 3 plays. In essence, once the Pats used their final timeout, all the Saints had to do was get one more first down and they would be leaving Foxboro with an unexpected win. Just 10 more yards. Instead, they lost progress and lost the game.

The near exact situation occurred in Charlotte this past weekend when the Saints took on the Panthers. It was a defensive struggle all game for both teams. Nobody was gaining any yards or making progress, but the Saints were finally able to take advantage of the Panthers' defense on a 97-yard touchdown drive in which they took a 13-10 lead with 6:37 left. The Saints would end up getting the ball back once again with 1:57 left to play. Once again the Saints needed a first down to ice the game, this time with the division crown and two seed in the NFC on the line. The offense gained 2 yards, punted the ball, and watched as Cam Newton drove down the field and won the game.

All of this is a cause for concern because the Saints have lost the eye of the tiger that they once had. Unless the Saints have a 20 point lead with five minutes left in the game, there is no telling if they will be able to finish it off. The Saints were 10 yards away from playing a meaningless game next week and most importantly, hosting their first playoff game. Instead they are playing for their playoff lives and will most likely not get a home game in the playoffs.

I think it's about time that someone returns to that burial site and digs up the "Finish Strong" gear for the Saints because they are going to need it for any type of playoff success.

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