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Dallas Cowboys 24 @ New Orleans Saints 17: The View from Section 140

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I won't say I told you so. That would mean I think I'm better than you but I can assure you I am most certainly not. I'm hurting just as much as you right now, literally (I bruised my finger from clapping so hard during the comeback attempt) and figuratively. Even though it's only the first loss of the season for the Saints, it feels like the fourteenth. But I did acknowledge this week that the Saints haven't looked as swaggerific in recent weeks and, win or lose, this team had to put on an impressive performance against the Cowboys last night.

The Saints lost and I'm not impressed. Unfortunately, just like the tragic events of September 11th didn't guarantee the Yankees a World Series victory or the sudden death of wide receiver Chris Henry doesn't assure the Bengals a win this afternoon over the Chargers, neither does the 43 years of pain and suffering that Saints fans have had to endure mean that our team is destined to go undefeated or win the Super Bowl. It may feel like that some times, but it's just not the way it works. The New Orleans Saints and their fans aren't owed anything.

And maybe now that the blinding veil of perfection has been lifted we, the fans, can all look at the situation a bit more objectively. The Saints are a team on the decline. They're beat up, they're tired and their incredible luck with missed field goals isn't always going to be enough to win football games. Whether you like it or not, we're seeing the magic run out. The magic that in games past created perfectly timed turnovers, huge deficit comebacks and last minute touchdown drives.

I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, though, and believe it or not I don't think all is lost. Not by any means. In fact, I've got to agree with Bob Griese on this one and say that this is probably the best thing to happen to the Saints. The pressure is off now for the team and this loss at home should prove to every member of the squad that nothing should be taken for granted. As a certain CSC member said at the end of the second half open game thread...

Can't be hungry if you don't know what it's like to starve a little.

One last positive thought before we go to the usual bullets. If I had asked any of you in August what you thought the Saints final record would be, I'm sure all of you would have been in the 10-6 to 12-4 range. The Saints have already exceeded almost all expectations this year and New Orleans will get to host a divisional playoff game, guaranteed. This is a good football team. So take a step back and make sure to breath it all in.

But know that next week's game will be the deciding factor as to which direction this team is heading and what we can expect the rest of the way.

And now for the usual bullets:

  • Here's an idea for the Superdome entertainment staff: Play all of the original and unique songs that local musicians have come up with this season before the game instead of the same Nickelback song I have to listen to on Magic 101.9FM at work every damn day.
  • I don't know if this was the Saints first game on the NFL Network but it was definitely the first game I have ever attended that was broadcast by NFLN. Where was Pam Oliver?
  • There were three Cowboy fans sitting to my left. All were very nice and respectful. One mocked the size of the Superdome scoreboard then showed me a picture of the now infamous scoreboard in Dallas that she had taken on her iPhone. It didn't even look real.
  • Does this loss give any credence to the theory of the black pants and the all-black uniform?
  • I'm not surprised that Payton all but abandoned the running game. The Saints got down so quickly they were forced to play catch-up from the very start. Given what we've seen from Payton in years past, his decision to put the game on Drew's shoulders should be no surprise. I can't say I honestly have any problem with that decision and I am usually first on that bandwagon.
  • The only downside is that it's easy to defend against an offense when you know that they're going to pass.
  • I'm also not surprised by the mediocre play of Mike McKenzie. What's I am more and more amazed by is the huge performance he managed to put together against the Patriots on Monday night. In retrospect I'm left wondering...where the hell did that come from?
  • What can you say about the toughness of DeMarcus Ware, who less than a week ago was driven off the field in an ambulance.
  • I won't say whether they favored any one team but there appeared to be quite a few missed penalties, particularly offensive and defensive pass interference.
  • It could have been worse for the Saints if the Cowboys hadn't squandered more than a few opportunities. Definitely some dropped passes and some missed interceptions.
  • If you're name was Thomas you had a decent night. Pierre Thomas, David Thomas and Thomas Morstead all had good performances despite the teams overall poor play.
  • Thomas Morstead is probably the most consistent player on this roster.
  • Another little nugget of info on Morstead: He drinks some weird, pink concoction on the sidelines out of an old bottled water. Looks like he mixes something with the water, maybe strawberry lemonade Crystal Light?
  • Reggie averaged 29 yards per carry last night. Oh wait, he only had one carry. Why no more? Even though Bush pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, he was jogging on the sidelines and appeared ready to go.
  • Anyone else find it ironic that In the second quarter, Drew was apologizing to Devery on the sidelines after giving up an interception on a severely under thrown ball to the receiver but then it was Henderson who owed an apology to Drew after dropping a sure touchdown in the end zone during the third quarter? Anyone?
  • Overlooked in all this sadness is the fact that Drew Brees just became the New Orleans Saints all-time leader in touchdown passes. Aaron Brooks, move the hell over.
  • Brand new fullback Marcus Mailei was getting an earful by a lot of his teammates on the bench.
  • It was good to finally see a little bit of pressure. Will Smith is having a career year and continues to show why he's worth all of that money. Charles Grant...not so much. It's this radical difference of production on the other end of the line that is shining the spotlight that much brighter on Grant.
  • I'm going to agree with the majority of Dallas fans on this one. Nick Folk needs to go.
  • I've watched the Cowboys play on TV plenty of times and I know Tony Romo has a weird throwing motion but it really looks weirder in person. How does he throw like that?
  • I am still seeing some weak tackling and the inability to wrap up opponents.
  • The Superdome wasn't any louder than it normally is on any regular Sunday game. Give credit to the Cowboys who score early and completely took the crowd out of it. What was billed as being possibly one of the most intense Superdome atmospheres of all time was anything but.
  • The Saints did give fans a run for their money. For a few minutes during the fourth quarter when the Saints started scoring there was definitely the feeling that they could possibly pull it off. After Bell ran in the touchdown and they were able to play the Ying Yang Twins, the crowd finally livened up. Folk's missed field goal kicked it into overdrive. Unfortunately, it didn't last long.
  • I'm not sure where the poor play of the offensive line came from; it was bad. That was a surprise to me. I know they were all listed on the injury report this week and maybe that plays a large part but they just weren't able to give Brees and help.
  • The part I think I hate most about losing, even just this one game, is having to read stories like this or FanPosts like this. Give me a freakin' break. It's Drew Brees. Any day, any game, any year. Done.

Here is a photographic stroll through my evening. By request, I tried to include more pictures than usual. Enjoy.

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Didn't happen.

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Might have shown this to you guys before. It sits at the foot of the main ramp on Poydras St.

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Elvis lives!

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Field reporters before the game. I don't have NFL Network so I have no idea who these people are.

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Brees and Co. warming up. That's Jazzfest producer Quint Davis in the foreground.

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I swear they just pose for me.

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They look like alien body snatchers when they're all lined up like that.

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Wanna know why opposing kickers keep missing clutch, last-minute field goals? It's these ladies.

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Poor woman has to go back to Iraq broke.

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You know who this is.

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Honoring some local teachers.

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Pre-game introductions.

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You guys know I'm pretty on top of everything Saints related but who the hell is Mailei?

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Another day at the office.

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Payton giving it to the officials.

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Picture in picture.

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Mascots in their Christmas outfits.

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Are you okay, Reggie?

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Stretch it out.

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Vilma on the sidelines after getting shaken up.

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Folk made this one.

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Bobby McCray.

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The entire offense trying to figure out what's wrong.

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Dude is catching a peek.

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We're you getting worried I would break tradition?

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This is literally three minutes after the game ended. These guys are already painting on the field logos for the New Orleans Bowl game. Unbelievable. They don't waste any time. Players are still praying at midfield.