After a 7-38 throttling of the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles are on their way to the Super Bowl as they try to stop Tom Brady from ring #6. This is a site dedicated to coverage of the New Orleans Saints, though, so we’ll just point out three ripple effects from this game as opposed to in-depth coverage of the game itself.
Former Saints in the Super Bowl
There are a handful of former New Orleans Saints players that will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, but the group is headlined by 2017 Saints WR Brandin Cooks, who went to New England via a blockbuster trade last offseason. Cooks was a vocal critic of his targets and usage in the New Orleans offense at times, but has seen his lowest totals since his rookie year in touchdowns, receiving yards, and receptions. His above-average catch rate dropped from mid-60% to the high-50s.
On the other side of the field, the Philadelphia Eagles have two other former 1st Round Picks for the Saints in their secondary in Patrick Robinson (who scored the first points for the Eagles last night on a pick-six) and Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins has been a Swiss Army Knife for the Eagles this year, seeing reps at Cornerback, Safety, and even Linebacker.
Jenkins was a member of the 2009 Super Bowl team in New Orleans and well-liked by his teammates and fans alike. Patrick “P-Rob” Robinson became the brunt of jokes for years in New Orleans and Cooks fell out of favor with the Saints fanbase after his criticism of Drew Brees. A win for either the Eagles or Patriots would give Robinson or Cooks the first titles of their respective careers.
Miracle for Naught
After a fluke play to end regulation sent the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game over the Saints, the organization began dubbing it the “Minnesota Miracle,” filing a trademark for the phrase immediately following the game.
It might have been a big moment for the Vikings at the time, but now the entire postseason for Minnesota just gets added to their long list of shortcomings. There was nothing that the Saints organization could have done to erase what was a gut-wrenching loss to the Vikings, but the sequence will be played back far less frequently with the knowledge that the immediately following game resulted in an absolute embarrassment.
If Stefon Diggs’ astounding 61-yard touchdown reception on the final play of the last Sunday’s playoff victory over the Saints was the greatest moment in Vikings’ history, what happened on Sunday in Philadelphia was the worst. This isn’t hyperbole. This is strong opinion based on following the Vikings for 57 seasons: The 2000 Vikings that lost 41-0 to the New York Giants were a 10-6 team with lousy defense. The 1998 Vikings that lost 30-27 in overtime did so to a 14-2 Atlanta team that was playing with its real quarterback. The 1969 Vikings team that was upset 23-7 in the franchise’s first Super Bowl did so against an underrated Chiefs outfit that was loaded with future Hall of Famers. What happened Sunday is unequalled in Vikings history: A 13-3 team with a new lease on its playoff life based on an impossible play, and now looking at a chance to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium, shows up and turns Foles into Joe Montana, and the Eagles defense into the Steel Curtain. Everyone with a stake in the Vikings – owners, club officials, coaches, players and fans – would have been better off if Marcus Williams had just tackled Diggs, thus keeping this ultimate humiliation off the franchise’s resume.
Chalk it right up next to events like “Hakim Drops the Ball” or the Saints 2006 divisional win over the aforementioned Philadelphia Eagles. They were great in the moment, but their long-lasting impression in history books is slim. It’s the postseason equivalent of scoring on on the final play of regulation with three crazy laterals only to miss the extra point immediately after that would have tied the game. Who would do something like that?
Saints Would Still Have Missed Out
Saints fans, you won’t want to hear this, but there was no way for this Saints team, as banged up as they were, to beat the Eagles in Philadelphia if Philly played like they did last night.
We saw the 2013 Pro Bowl version of Nick Foles and the Eagles offense manhandle one of historically best defenses in the NFL. Hey, remember when teams wanted to throw their final games to play Philadelphia in the postseason? Yeah, turns out that wasn’t a great idea.
The entire NFL waited for the “real” Case Keenum to finally show up, and he did when Vikings fans could least afford it. Maybe the same will be true for Nick Foles in two weeks against the Patriots. Time will tell. But even still, this Eagles team is young, talented, and under team control for years to come. Their burst off the defensive line, pass-catching weapons on offense, and talented depth in the backfield was built for this.
Now this all isn’t to say that the New Orleans Saints would give up 31 unanswered points after scoring an opening touchdown, as I firmly believe (as do most Saints who vocalized such on Twitter) that they would have definitely put up more of a fight than Minnesota did. But at the end of the day, the game would have likely ended with Philly still moving on to New England.