Debunking a myth: pumped up foes won't slow down Saints
I can’t take it anymore.
Of all the factors that could sidetrack the Saints as they follow up on last year’s Super Bowl victory, the phoniest is the idea every fired-up opponent will play its best game against them.
No they won’t. The whole concept is a myth even though it has been repeated ad nauseum about every defending champion in every sport since the dawn of time.
Minnesota was supbar rather than super in the season opener last Thursday, and there’s no proof San Francisco will be sharp this Monday night when New Orleans travels to Candlestick Park.
Sure, the stadium will be rocking at the start of the game. Absolutely, the 49ers will play with incredible intensity from the opening kickoff.
Here’s the hangup: high intensity does not guarantee heady execution. Actually, excessive intensity can be the enemy of execution.
Linebackers try to do too much, losing their gap responsibilities as they free wheel in an attempt to be heroes. Hyped-up quarterbacks overthrow receivers and force the ball into coverage as they look for a game-turning play. Receivers think about juking a defender out of his jockstrap before the ball arrives, and it bounces harmlessly off their chest as they forget to look it in.
Before they calm down, the wild-eyed underdogs are trailing 14-0 and facing an uphill battle the rest of the way.
Where is this history of Super Bowl champions flopping because their opponents flew too high?
The New York Giants, the last NFC team to win the Super Bowl before the Saints, went 10-6 in their championship year. The following season, when everyone wanted to beat Eli Manning and company, they finished 12-4.
Philadelphia upset them in their first playoff game, but postseason intensity is a given. When the Giants should have been most vulnerable to having a target on their backs, they won 10 of their first 11 games.
The Colts fared fine after finally winning a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning in 2006. They went 12-4 in that Super season and 13-3 the following year, stomping the Saints 41-10 in their opener, starting 7-0 and winning five of their first seven by 18 points or more.
New England was half decent the year after winning the Super Bowl in 2003, following its 14-2 season with an even more dominant 14-2 mark, improving its scoring differential from 110 to 177 on its way to another title.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are poster children for the Super Bowl hangover, slumping to 8-8 in 2006 after winning it all in 2005 and to 9-7 in 2009 after their championship season in 2008. But Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is no Drew Brees as a leader.
When the Saints take the field on Monday night, they should soak up the electric atmosphere at Candlestick Park. The 49ers will be no closer to beating them than if the crowd were sitting on its hands.
Sadly, all this talk about opponents playing their A game against defending Super Bowl champions has an old Pat Benatar song reverberating in my head. Maybe the Saints should adopt her lyrics as their motto.
“Hit me with your best shot! Fire away!”
Talented, focused teams welcome being a target. Having extra motivation to beat an opponent and actually doing it are two entirely different things.
Well put...you should submit that to all the newspapers in SF.
no he should NOT! Why would you want to get the '9ers even more pumped for this game, and make it easier to beat us.............................Wait I don't think I understood this article.
I'm hoping for Forty Burger type game from Breesus.
Someone finally said it.
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