Scoot: Saints smelled the cheese – but didn’t bite!

Scoot
November 20, 2017 - 1:21 pm

For a game that had an early Drew Brees interception and with the Saints trailing by 15 points with less than 6 minutes left to play, you have to be impressed with the way the Saints beat the Washington Redskins yesterday.

I was not at the game yesterday because I am in Portland, OR visiting my son and daughter-in-law and their new baby. I found a local sports bar/restaurant, which was obviously a popular spot with locals, to watch NFL games on a Sunday morning. When people move, they rarely lose their loyalty to their team, and on this Sunday morning there were a number of Vikings, Bears and Chiefs fans at The Clubhouse restaurant; and I was the lone Saints fan.

It’s interesting to watch a Saints game in another city when you are the only fan in the room. With numerous monitors throughout the restaurant, most were on the Vikings – Rams game, the Chiefs – Giants game, as well as other games, but there was one TV monitor in a corner with the Saints – Skins game on; and I found a table facing it and sat their for the entire game.

At one point, I looked down at my notes; and when I looked up, the bartender changed the Saints game to another game. Immediately, I protested in a nice way, saying, “I was watching that game,” the bartender said, “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t think anyone was watching the Saints game.” She quickly returned the game to that monitor and when she looked at the score, she said to a few customers, “Wow, that’s a good game!” At that point, I thought she would switch a few of the other monitors to the Saints game because it was a good game; but the Saints – Skins game remained on only one monitor.

Portland is far away from New Orleans, and it was obvious that the Saints had not reached the level of attracting mass appeal interest. I have a feeling that after the come-from-behind OT win yesterday, that will begin to change.

For much of the game, the Saints were outplayed and outcoached. The Redskins seemed to approach the game with reckless abandon and the Saints did not match that until the end. The Saints obviously did what they needed to do to stay in the game, but there were moments when we could not be sure the Saints would win it in the end.

Very early in the 2nd quarter, the Skins faced a 4th & 6 on the Saints 40 yard line. They went for it – a gutsy call. Big completion from Kirk Cousins put the Skins inside the 15 yard line with a first down and a penalty against the Saints gave the Skins 1st and goal inside the 5. Washington scored, and the Skins led 17 – 10.

Once again, the running duet of Ingram and Kamara were unbelievable; and Brees combined with Thomas, Ginn, Jr. and Coleman for huge gains from that point on. But with just over 9:00 left in the game and the Skins leading the Saints 24 – 16, Cousins hit on a huge pass play, similar to the one that got the big first down earlier and the drive ended with a Skins receiver without a Saints defender within 10 yards and for a TD and the Skins led the Saints 31 – 16.

And then, Brees started connecting with Fleener and then, Hill for the touchdown and the score was 31 – 23 with 2:53 left to play. The Skins had the ball and with 2:38 left on 3rd & 1 the Saints defense stopped the Skins! Big moment!

And then the “comeback train” started rolling! Brees to Thomas – Brees to Ginn, Jr. – Brees to Fleener down to the 18 yard line. Brees to Kamara, who bobbled the pass but caught it on the run and the Saints scored with 1:05 remaining. And then Kamara scored on the 2-point conversion! The game was tied 31 – 31!

As I sat as the only Saints fan in a sports bar/restaurant so far away in Portland, I felt more like I was there in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome! I was celebrating with all of you while everyone else watching games either cheered or jeered at their teams.

Then the drama began. Skins completed 2 big passes for 2 big 1st downs and made it to the Saints 44 with :28 left in regulation play. This was a turning point: Cousins was hit from the blindside, and the ball was knocked loose. The Skins recovered, but the game was going into OT.

In OT, the Saints defense was peaking and stopped the Skins; and at that point you just got the feeling that the Saints were going to score - and they did!  Two big gains by Ingram, and the Saints were close enough. Lutz kicked the winning field goal and the Saints won in OT extending their winning streak to 8!

I really didn’t care that no one in the place where I was watching the game was as excited as I was; I just loved the moment!  The way the Saints came back to beat the Skins proves that this Saints team is different from the Saints teams we have seen the past few years. This is a team that believes in themselves.

As fans, we get frustrated when the talent is there, but the effort is not. Yesterday, and since the Saints began their 8-game winning streak, we have seen a team comprised of known and unknown names, but a team that possesses the intangible qualities of confidence, courage and chemistry.

The Saints got very close to the mousetrap yesterday and they were smelling the cheese – but they didn’t bite!

Next week – Saints and the Rams in L.A.!

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