Sunday, December 20, 2009

Am I blue?

A pall has been cast over the city. Even though I have not ventured outside since last night, I can somehow feel a diminishment of the ardor of that collective spirit of Saints fever that reached its zenith yesterday. The "Bless You Boys" have been vanquished by "America's Team" and there seems no solace in the recognition that on any given Sunday, Monday, Thursday or Saturday one NFL team can overpower another. On reflection it may well have been overly optimistic to think that the 2009 Saints could be talked about in the same breath as the 1972 Miami Dolphins or the 2007 New England Patriots, both of whom had posted perfect regular seasons. Had New Orleans won last night, the team would have tied the regular season record Miami had enjoyed. New England, of course, won every game with the exception of the one that mattered, the Super Bowl, where they were defeated by the upstart New York Giants. I suppose any reasonable sportsfan would understand the disappointment attached to seeing a dream - no matter how impossible - vanish before one's eyes. But the Who Dat Nation has never been so close to perfection and it was reassuring to think that all of those past seasons where we let opponents run ramshackle over us or, for me, the nadir of hopelessness when the Saints went 1-15 in 1981, would be redeemed this year. That's not to say the Saints didn't manage to play good catch up ball last night. They almost pulled off yet another amazing comeback. This time, though, they had trouble pulling even with Dallas, which came out in their first two possessions with two touchdowns. Given the advantage of a Superdome filled to overflowing with diehard Saints fans, it seems hard to rationalize they couldn't get one score out of their first two possessions. Dallas controlled the clock and their destiny last night. By going 9-5, they kept themselves in the playoff picture. The Saints are already assured a first-round bye, but home field advantage is now up for grabs. Given the loss in the Superdome last night and the terrific way the team has played in away stadiums, perhaps home field advantage won't be necessary for the team to do well in the playoffs. Some analysts have suggested the Saints needed a loss in order to psychologically prepare them for the challenges ahead of having to win the rest of their remaining games and keep an eye on the prize, which is the Super Bowl. Frankly, I would have preferred a perfect season, but I will take what I can get. There is only one other team out there, Indianapolis, that has achieved 14-0 and they did it this past Thursday night. If the Saints can get through Minnesota and any other NFC teams that stand in their way, they may yet have an opportunity to have it out with our own Peyton Manning and his fabulous Colts team. The loss to the Cowboys is not as important as other factors that have affected the city like Hurricane Katrina and the related flooding four years ago. We have many challenges for this city and the people who live here. The Saints have provided amazing moments of commonality in spirit for many culturally diverse people. I suppose it was inevitable that they could and would lose. I keep telling myself that statement over and over. It has yet to sink in for I have drunk the dregs of defeat and they are indeed bitter.

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