Letting a big game slip away on the big stage can lead to restless days and sleepless nights. Not just for the players involved but more-so for the fans. Some losses may seem crushing on the surface but in reality you find yourself not as upset as you thought you may have been. I'm a Red Wings fan and after watching the Red Wings lose Game 7 to the Blackhawks, in overtime no less, I found myself disappointed but not upset, angry, or fixated. Unlike the feelings I've harbored for the Niners playoff loss, but I digress.
Sometimes, as in the case with the Red Wings, a team just gave their all and in the end didn't have enough. Lessons will be learned and a team will become better for the experience, as the odds were not in their favor to begin with. I immediately thought of which Saints loss I had the same reaction to. Not many came to mind as I'm usually pretty, let's just say, perturbed after a Saints loss. One did come to mind though.
For me, the easiest marquee loss to get over was the 2011 season opener at Green Bay. A fantastic matchup between the two previous Super Bowl Champions. Drew Brees vs Aaron Rodgers, the two Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks who are both top five quarterbacks facing off against each other. Two of the most dynamic offenses in the league squaring off at historic Lambeau Field. There was nothing not to like about this game, and we had months of hype leading up to it to get us all at fever pitch come kickoff.
There was a lot against the Saints in that matchup as well. The Packers were the defending Super Bowl Champions that evening, and as we were all aware from the Saints Super Bowl defense a season earlier, the defending champion was, at that point, undefeated on the Thursday Night Kickoff game. The NFL was coming off of the lockout offseason and the Saints were known as the team that set up their own "mini camps" under Brees' leadership, while Rodgers and the Packers passed on any offseason training. It was a battle of philosophies.
The Saints and Who Dat Nation were looking for a victory here as the last meaningful game we all witnessed was the atrocious playoff loss at Seattle. The Saints were looking for a big win to open the season as a catalyst for success in 2011. Unfortunately, at the conclusion of a game filled with big plays and sensational moments for both teams, the Saints furious rally fell short at the goal line. Strangely though, I was not furious when Mark Ingram was stopped at the goal line. Sure, it was an opportunity lost, but I was actually encouraged by the performance.
The Saints took the Packers best shot, in their house, on that night. They got the victory over the Saints in the end, but the Saints proved their best was still among the very best in the league. The Saints showed heart and fight against a team that was firing on all cylinders on their banner night in front of a raucous crowd. The regular season turned out great for both teams in the end and I think the loss may have made the Saints a better team that season.
The Saints/Packers Week 1 matchup lived up to the billing and wasn't topped the entire season as it was named the NFL Game of the Year that season. The Saints may have lost but I wasn't upset, I felt they were on the right track to recapture greatness. The loss at St. Louis later that season gave me the opposite reaction, but we all take different losses in different ways. The Saints didn't embarrass themselves that Thursday night. Even in a loss, they did Who Dat Nation proud and I was ready for Week 2 and the rest of that season as soon as Green Bay made that goal line stand.
Now I ask you Who Dat Nation. Which Saints loss did you take better than even you expected? Leave us your comments and insight below.