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Saints' magical ride comes to an end


nativefalcon
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SEATTLE -- The memories of their Super Bowl season will last forever. The magic did not.

The feel-good story of last season -- or maybe the past decade or two -- is over. It ended unexpectedly and more than a little embarrassingly for the New Orleans Saints. The defending Super Bowl champions came into Qwest Field on Saturday to play the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

It ended with the Seattle Seahawks, a team that stumbled to the NFC West championship, defeating the Saints 41-36. Just like that, the magic and miracles that carried the Saints all the way to Miami and last year’s Super Bowl are over.

“After you experience raising that trophy, you don’t want to see anyone else lift it,’’ New Orleans linebacker Scott Shanle said. “There wasn’t a person in this locker room that didn’t think we would be lifting that trophy again.’’

That’s not going to happen. Some other team will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February and it will come in a season in which the Saints generally looked like they were avoiding “the curse’’ that has dethroned so many recent Super Bowl champions.

They went 11-5 in the regular season, again riding the arm of Drew Brees and using a defense that looked better overall than it did a year ago. Then, against a team the Saints handled easily in the regular season, it all fell apart.

Instead of looking like the Saints of the regular season or the champion Saints of the 2009 season, the Saints looked a lot more like the New Orleans teams of 2007 and 2008. Those teams could move the ball, but didn’t play much defense. Those teams were mediocre, sort of like the Seahawks.

“We’ll have a chance to look at the film,’’ Saints coach Sean Payton said when asked to explain why his team suddenly collapsed.

Payton’s right. There will be no Super Bowl parades or even any more games this season. The Saints will have months to reflect on what happened.

There will be painful weeks to watch the film of Matt Hasselbeck throwing for 272 yards and four touchdowns. That’s a lot of time to see safety Darren Sharper looking like he waited too long to retire. Time to watch strong safety Roman Harper looking even worse than Sharper and time to watch rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson making a season’s worth of rookie mistakes.

That’s not going to look good on the résumé of Gregg Williams. He’s the defensive coordinator and the man many credit for putting the Saints over the top last season. He has been mentioned as a possible head-coaching candidate in other places in recent weeks. He now will have time to interview. If Williams doesn’t get another job, he and Payton can watch the horror movie together.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

A season after winning their first Super Bowl, Drew Brees and the Saints were ousted in the wild-card round.“Our eyes were not very good in coverage,’’ Sharper said.

Throw in their legs and their minds too, and don’t limit the blame to the secondary. The front four and the linebackers also got destroyed. Hasselbeck, who couldn’t even play a week ago because of a hip injury, completed 22 of 35 passes and finished with a 113.0 passer rating. Marshawn Lynch ran over the New Orleans defense for 131 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

“I think we might have taken for granted the success they had throwing against us earlier in the season,’’ Sharper said.

That’s a reference to the Nov. 21 regular-season game in the Superdome. Hasselbeck threw for 366 yards in that game, but the Saints won 34-19. So what changed between the regular-season game and now? And what happened between last year’s Super Bowl and now?

A team that took pride in saying the only real losses from the Super Bowl were linebacker Scott Fujita and backup running back Mike Bell somehow lost a lot more. Yes, injuries were a factor. The Saints were forced to play Sharper because starting free safety Malcolm Jenkins was injured. Running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory didn’t play because of injuries and fellow running backs Reggie Bush and Julius Jones got so banged up in the second half that the Saints had to play DeShawn Wynn, who was signed last week.

But the problems started long before Bush and Jones got hurt. The Saints, who had to fly across the country and had only six days between games, started off playing like champions. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead and Seattle was looking every bit the part of a 7-9 team. Then everything changed.

“It’s only appropriate to start off with congratulating [coach] Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks for a big win,'' Payton said. “They played a real good game.’’

Yes, give the Seahawks credit, but the Saints gave them a whole lot of help. Although Brees threw for 404 yards on 60 attempts, any attempt at offensive balance was abandoned in the second and third quarters when the Seahawks outscored the Saints 27-10.

Lynch and the Seattle receivers ran all over Williams’ defense. Things got so bad that Payton had to call for a desperation onside kick near the end of the game instead of using it as a surprise as he did in the Super Bowl win.

The Saints, who danced their way out of Miami after the Super Bowl and posed for pictures on the Atlanta Falcons’ logo in the Georgia Dome a few weeks ago, lost their swagger in Seattle.

The locker room was quiet.

“We knew we had a team we thought could repeat,’’ Sharper said.

“This stings a lot,’’ cornerback Jabari Greer said.

The silence and the sting will last the long flight back home and probably spill over into the coming weeks and months. The Saints lost more than just a playoff game.

They lost their chance at repeating as Super Bowl champions and they did it against a team that had a losing record in the regular season. Instead, they’re left to think about preventing a repeat of what happened in Seattle.

“If we’re ever in this position down the road, we have to remember this experience so it doesn’t happen again,’’ Shanle said.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth

SEA DAT SEA DAT. :P :P

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Could not have happened to a more deserving team. You have to admire the consistency of the Saints. Even after winning the SB, and just when you think they are going to put the ghosts of the Aints/Baghead days behind them, they go and do something like this that they can never live down. People will remember this more than the SB win.

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Drew Brees better send Hasselbeck and the Seahawks a thank you note, if they won and had to come to Atlanta we would not have let bree's leave with his legs attached to his body, it's ****in' garbage that they're taking pictures on our logo, I still want revenge for that ******** and I hope our DL keeps that in mind when we see the classless saints next season, for now though we have to content ourself with winning the superbowl.

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I almost puked when right after the Aints lost the commentary guy went to talking about "Katrina" and "bringing a city together" and "Magic" and blah and bleh and blow!

Oh how **** stupid. Poor little Aints fall down go boom?

Good riddance. if they think this year sucked for the aints wait until next season hits and they realise just how s-h-i-t-t-y the Katrina's have become..

HAHAHA

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The tidbit I find THE MOST interesting about the Seahawks 7-9 record and subsequent playoff presence....

in EACH of the Seahawks NINE losses they lost by no less than 15 points. :blink: The team they lost to by those fewest 15 points was..... yep, you guessed it. The Saints. :unsure:

And they threw for 366 yds in that game lost to the Saints... :ph34r: :ph34r:

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I swear the only thing that could have happened better was for our Falcons to have beat them, but this is THE best consolation prize ever watching them not just lose but getting (inserting new phrase for azz whupping here) "Marshawn Lynched" up there in Seattle...classic!! :lol::lol:

Couldn't happen to a worst set of fans... :P

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Good luck to the Falcons. I hope you sweep the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. You guys are the NFC South champs and although we are bitter enemies in the season ours is done so it is only natural for Saints fans to wish you guys the best. Bring another title home to the NFC South!

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The Saints were so awful to lose to 7-9 Seahawks in their own nest on national tv, but yet that same Saints team beat Falcons in their own nest on national tv a couple weeks before..that's also a lasting impression to not only the fans and the media, but also the upcoming teams Falcons will face. That defense that couldn't stop the Seahawks shut down the Falcons in their own dome where they were once thought to be impervious...

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I'm still trying to figure out what "magical ride" the author is talking about.

The Saints won the big one last year, okay. LAST YEAR.

They couldn't win their division THIS YEAR. They lost to Arizona and Cleveland THIS YEAR.

They lost 2 of their last 3 games THIS YEAR.

They were the #5 seed THIS YEAR.

They had to travel for a wildcard game THIS YEAR.

Their defense played like dogsqueez against the WORST RUSHING TEAM IN THE NFL THIS YEAR.

They lost to the ONLY NFL TEAM to play a postseason game after posting a losing record THIS YEAR.

'You don't know what we can find, why dontcha come with me little girl, on a TRAGIC CARPET RIDE!'

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Guest jb aka johnnybuc

Could not have happened to a more deserving team. You have to admire the consistency of the Saints. Even after winning the SB, and just when you think they are going to put the ghosts of the Aints/Baghead days behind them, they go and do something like this that they can never live down. People will remember this more than the SB win.

Oh Yeah..............SO SWEET!;)

Think it'll shut the arrogant loudmouths up? Neither do I.:lol:

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The Saints were so awful to lose to 7-9 Seahawks in their own nest on national tv, but yet that same Saints team beat Falcons in their own nest on national tv a couple weeks before..that's also a lasting impression to not only the fans and the media, but also the upcoming teams Falcons will face. That defense that couldn't stop the Seahawks shut down the Falcons in their own dome where they were once thought to be impervious...

The Falcons lost 3 games all season. Once to the Saints. Once to Pitt. And once to Phi. All of those teams had 10+ wins this season. Who did NO lose to? Arizona? Cleveland? Seattle in the playoffs?!?

Atlanta = 0 embarassing losses

New Orleans = 3 embarassing losses

All you can do is reflect on that one win during the regular season. We will happily look forward to playing next week :-)

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The Saints were so awful to lose to 7-9 Seahawks in their own nest on national tv, but yet that same Saints team beat Falcons in their own nest on national tv a couple weeks before..that's also a lasting impression to not only the fans and the media, but also the upcoming teams Falcons will face. That defense that couldn't stop the Seahawks shut down the Falcons in their own dome where they were once thought to be impervious...

Enjoy that basically meaningless win for your Taints all winter, spring and summer. B)

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