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5-4 Saints?

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Tuesday October 21, 2003 John DeShazier It's not so wholly hilarious anymore. Crazy as it sounds, the Saints who began the season 1-4, who currently are 3-4, are two good weeks against two not-so-dominant teams away from climbing to 5-4, ...

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Old 10-21-2003, 04:30 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: CRYSTAL BEACH TEXAS
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5-4 Saints?

Tuesday October 21, 2003


John DeShazier


It's not so wholly hilarious anymore.

Crazy as it sounds, the Saints who began the season 1-4, who currently are 3-4, are two good weeks against two not-so-dominant teams away from climbing to 5-4, respectability and -- take a deep breath here and exhale -- into the playoff hunt.

A little funny still, perhaps, because the road ahead remains bumpy. Three victories against teams with a combined record of 4-15 provide no reason for a team to get chesty. "We're not where we want to be yet, (and) everybody knows that," Coach Jim Haslett said.

But a 5-4 record, entering the bye week, is right there to be had. It's dizzying to consider.

This team is a work in progress, and more often than not this season, the construction hasn't been satisfactory. Teams get to 3-4 by not playing to potential, by putting on exhibitions that aren't XFL-worthy, by appearing unsure and unable to piece together a decent three quarters, let alone four.

But in winning two straight, at least the bleeding was stopped.

No one will count victories over Chicago and Atlanta as titanic conquests; each has won only one game. Saints fans have some unused bags they'll be more than happy to share with brethren in those cities. But getting a taste of winning helps.

"When you win, you always gain confidence," Haslett said. "Our guys have really done a nice job sticking together."

Unity was all the Saints could hang their helmets on for too long. The refusal to turn on one another and point fingers was about the only favorable trait the team showed for several weeks, a positive because no unit was playing so well it could call out another at the time, anyway.

But now, finally, there's something tangible to which to point. The schedule-maker and fate were kind -- the Bears were expected to reek, and the Falcons were a chic Super Bowl pick until superman Mike Vick broke his leg. But the Saints had to do their part to make it work, too.

Granted, it wasn't heavy lifting. The Bears and Falcons appear to have packed it in before playing the Saints. The Saints haven't been anything near dominant until a 45-17 demolition of Atlanta. No team has quivered at the prospect of lining up across from them.

Still, after being humiliated on consecutive Sundays by Tennessee and Indianapolis, the Saints needed something to show fans.

Only seven NFC teams have records of .500 or better. The Saints will play two of them, 5-1 Carolina and 3-3 Tampa Bay, in the next two weeks, one (the Panthers) whom they played even until a special teams breakdown proved to be the difference in a 19-13 loss.

"(Beating Carolina) puts us back in the hunt and pulls them back to the pack," Haslett said. "I know our guys are real excited about playing the game."

There now is a reason, however slight, for others to be excited about it, too.

It's only a sliver of daylight, quite different from the blinding beam of the train that was steamrolling toward the team during the first five weeks of the season. But the Saints are no longer learning to walk fast; learning to run is pending.

"There are so many teams in the league that are good," Haslett said. "We've just got to keep fighting, keep trying to get better."

But if they keep pulling themselves up, there'll be even less to snicker about as the season progresses.
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