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Opportunity knocked.........

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Opportunity knocked, but Saints had no answer Monday October 27, 2003 Peter Finney It was lost and won and lost and won and, finally, lost. It was going to be the finest victory of a rocky season, a shot of ...

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Old 10-27-2003, 05:56 PM   #1
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Opportunity knocked.........


Opportunity knocked, but Saints had no answer



Monday October 27, 2003


Peter Finney


It was lost and won and lost and won and, finally, lost.

It was going to be the finest victory of a rocky season, a shot of confidence for a struggling football team in search of some sunshine as it scrapped to reach .500.

Instead, given the circumstances, it turned into the most devastating loss of the Jim Haslett era, the kind that can drop a group of assorted psyches into a mental hole from which there is no escape.

When the head coach goes to the videotape, he'll see a team that, in defeat, perhaps wasted as many big plays as any Saints team ever did.

All the clichés applied to Sunday's 23-20 loss in overtime to the Carolina Panthers. Played hard. Lost gallantly.

The home team fell behind 10-0, then scored 17 consecutive points -- highlighted by a blocked punt and a 46-yard field goal to end the half. Back came the Panthers to regain the lead at 20-17 in the final three minutes. And back came the Saints to tie it in the final seconds, this time with a 42-yard field goal.

And then?

Providence smiles. The Saints win the toss. Michael Lewis returns the kickoff 53 yards. The Saints are on Carolina's 46. One first down and Jon Carney is in position to win it with a third field goal.

Suddenly, it's fourth-and-1 at Carolina's 37.

For Haslett, decision time.

He considered a 54-yard field-goal attempt. He considered a naked bootleg with Aaron Brooks faking to Deuce McAllister, then turning the corner. He considered giving it to McAllister up the middle.

"I told Jim to gimme the ball," McAllister said. "I knew I could make a yard."

It was big-play time.

And it was Julius Peppers, Carolina's 6-foot-6, 283-pound defensive end, who made the biggest play of all.

Please don't blame McAllister for failing. There was Peppers, brushing aside tight end Ernie Conwell, coming in clean, greeting McAllister more than a yard behind the line of scrimmage and leveling him in his tracks with a ball-shaking tackle. McAllister had no chance. Absolutely zero.

Carolina's ball. And, six plays later, with Stephen Davis doing the damage with the last of his 178 rushing yards, it was Carolina's game.

After beating three NFL also-rans, a chance to beat the division-leading Panthers had vanished.

There sat a sullen McAllister, comparing the "hurt" of letting this one slip away to the loss of his brother, which spoke to his postgame feeling of mega-despair.

In this case, it was a shared feeling.

Haslett will sit back, turn on the videotape, and watch the roller-coaster ride. And a string of wasted plays

There were touchdown-saving, end zone deflections of Jake Delhomme passes by the Saints' Fred Thomas and Ashley Ambrose. There was Brooks losing the ball, and setting up a Carolina touchdown, as he got too eager in attempting to launch a long pass downfield.

As the Saints made their second-quarter rush, there was Brooks hooking up twice for touchdowns with Joe Horn, who made a sky-climbing grab for one, then made a pivot fake and ran past a defender for the other.

With time running out, and his team needing a field goal to send it into overtime, there was Brooks finding Jerome Pathon on fourth-and-10 to keep the drive alive. Big plays in defeat.

On this day, Brooks would lead Delhomme 2-0 in touchdown throws, but wind up as the losing pitcher.

"You got to give the Saints defense credit," Delhomme said. "I was never able to get into a rhythm. Aaron played well. I'm not into all this rivalry stuff. He and I are good friends. I'm just lucky to be a quarterback in the NFL. I'm on a good team with good players."

So, yes, for the now 6-1 Panthers, it was a team victory. And, for the 3-5 Saints, a team defeat.

The bitterest kind. All those wasted plays.
JOESAM2002 is offline  
Old 10-27-2003, 09:23 PM   #2
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Opportunity knocked.........

BEAT thinks the obvious call on 4rth and 1 was QB draw with AB leading us to the first down, and playoff glory.

BEAT insists that the ball should have gone to the heart and soul of this franchise.
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Old 10-27-2003, 09:53 PM   #3
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Opportunity knocked.........

I wanna join BEAT!!! How do I sign up?!?!
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Old 10-27-2003, 10:36 PM   #4
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Opportunity knocked.........

Hmmm

BEAT insists that the ball should have gone to the heart and soul of this franchise.

Considering some rather uninspired play at some points already in the season .That might be a little hard , he may have gone to St. Louis ........ :P
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Old 10-28-2003, 06:04 AM   #5
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Opportunity knocked.........

Considering some rather uninspired play at some points already in the season .That might be a little hard , he may have gone to St. Louis ........
Oooooh..... Aaaaahhhh....

When does the all access expose` about the Haslet regime hit newsstands? Can\'t wait for my copy.
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