The New Orleans Saints’ fairy tale is over. The team with the second worst record in the NFL last year defied reasoning one game at a time and did what no one thought possible at the beginning of the season. They made it to the NFC Championship game. But that is where the fairy tale ended.
Most of us here in the Piney Woods of Texas were rooting for our neighboring Saints since our first love, be it the Texans or the Cowboys, fell by the wayside. But in the end, the better team won.
Up until the end of the first half, the game resembled the mundane AFC divisional playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens where field goals were the only source of points. However, a touchdown by the Bears with less than two minutes remaining in the half was answered promptly by the Saints to set the tone for the rest of the game.
In the early third quarter, the living highlight reel known as Reggie Bush received an 88-yard touchdown catch to narrow the Bears’ lead down to two points. Saints’ fans began to breathe more easily as hope was revived. Could the Saint’s actually do it? Could they enter the season with little hope of a winning record and end up going to the Super Bowl? No.
The superb rush-defense of the Chicago Bears only allowed 56 rushing yards during the game. This pressure forced the Saints to rely on the passing game of quarterback Drew Brees, and the Bears saw it coming.
Brees’ 354 passing yards more than doubled that of Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, but with double the attempts. Without a successful running game, the Saints’ offense was all but shut out.
In the end the Bears defeated the Saints 39-14 to move on to the Super Bowl where they will face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
If Texans’ fans have learned anything from this experience it’s to not give up hope; that one season does not dictate how the next will be, and that we really, really should have drafted Reggie Bush.