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Saints' first win is better late than never

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Tuesday, October 16, 2007 John DeShazier Starting point, or high point? Was the Sunday night demolition of the Seahawks -- a thing of beauty by almost any measure outside the Pacific Northwest -- the start of something good or as ...

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Old 10-17-2007, 02:38 AM   #1
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Cool Saints' first win is better late than never

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
John DeShazier

Starting point, or high point?

Was the Sunday night demolition of the Seahawks -- a thing of beauty by almost any measure outside the Pacific Northwest -- the start of something good or as good as it'll get for the Saints?

"It was a great performance," defensive end Will Smith said. "Defense and offense came out. Special teams also; we got a (fumbled punt snap returned for a touchdown). It was a complete game for the New Orleans Saints. We've been looking for that, and we finally got it."

But it really only matters if the Saints do something with it, if they take it and run and begin making up ground on the teams in the NFC South, two of which (Tampa Bay and Carolina) already own victories over them.

Otherwise, their 28-17 masterpiece (for them) at Qwest Field over Seattle, an alleged Super Bowl contender that, though 3-3, has looked more pedestrian than the 1-4 Saints the past two games, will go to waste.

"We just needed something good to go our way," receiver David Patten said of the fumbled punt snap that the Saints parlayed into a 7-0 lead, a statement that could have covered the season as a whole.

Said Coach Sean Payton: "I think our preparation leading up to this game, there was good focus. Just getting the win was important. So we'll take it home or away."

The obvious unknown is whether they can keep adding to it, home and away.

On the surface, it appears that the Saints wisely aren't willing to make too much of the victory, desperate as they were for it. It bears repeating, again and again and again, that they remain three games south of .500, that they dug a hole for themselves (0-4) out of which only one team has climbed out and reached the playoffs since the field was expanded in 1992.

Which means that just as much as last year, when the franchise made its first appearance in the NFC championship game, the Saints are looking to make a historic run.

But they only can do that if Sunday night was the starting point, rather than the high point, of the season.

The good news is the Saints can play better, and they know it.

They scored all 28 of their points against the Seahawks in the first half, then pretty much played prevent offense and defense the final 30 minutes, satisfied to jog to the finish line as long as Seattle failed to make a serious move.

"We had a chance, I felt, in the second half to break the game wide open," Payton said. "And I kind of backed off a little bit and was being smart with the lead, maybe a little too conservative, but I wanted the clock to move."

And receivers -- plural, which means it isn't just Devery Henderson, folks -- continued their unfortunate, disturbing trend of dropping catchable passes. There only are so many lineup changes that can be made at the position during the season, so the group better figure out a way to hold on to a better percentage of the ones that are supposed to be routine catches.

But the offensive line played well for a second consecutive week, keeping quarterback Drew Brees clean and opening holes for the run game.

"They have been a good offense this year," said Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, who obviously was caught up in the deflation of the moment, because the Saints offense had scored a total of 44 points in four games before laying 21 on Seattle.

"They just had turned the ball over a lot," Kerney said. "We needed to get the ball more from them. That's pretty much the answer. They've got a lot of weapons. It's an offense with a lot of potential, and they showed it."

And the defense and special teams did more than hold up their ends. Five sacks, a touchdown and two turnovers -- and no wayward punts or kicks -- was the cleanest performance the two units have combined to give in the same game.

Add it all up and, other than New England and Indianapolis, there weren't a whole lot of teams the Saints couldn't have beaten Sunday night.

Easily, the win serves as the high point of what, so far, has been a thoroughly disappointing season. Because by now, we figured the Saints would have a crooked number in the "W" column.

"There's been a lot of frustration," said Patten, who had the best game (eight catches, 113 yards) of any Saints receiver this season. "0-and-4, we have greater expectations of ourselves."

If Sunday was the starting point, they still have a chance -- a slim, slim chance -- of reaching a few of them. But only if Sunday was the start.

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