Sunday, December 23, 2007

Armchair QB: SOS

That would be Same Old Saints.

How many times have we been here, especially in the last few years. We've got to win to get in, and we can't get the job done. In fairness, the Eagles played very well today and our sideline looks more like a hospital ward than a football field, but we still had the chances.

The twist of the knife, of course, was the fact that Washington beat the Vikings, meaning that if we had found a way to win, we would control our own destiny. Now, we're hoping for the stars to align and planets to collide. We have to win, Washington has to lose to a Dallas team that's clinched home field and likely won't play any of its starters, and the Vikings have to lose to Denver. Mathematically, we're not eliminated, but in the real world, we blew it.

Of course, when the game starts on the crazy note today's did -- a fumble rolling around for 30 yards and ending up in the end zone under an Eagle -- you know what kind of day it's going to be. I felt pretty confident after our first drive and then the forced fumble that ended in a touchdown, but after that, it just seemed we couldn't do anything until the end of the first half. That last-second Grammatica field goal turning a disaster into three points has to be one of the top plays of the year. We go into the second half with a great drive and three chances to put the ball in from the one, and we can't get the job done. Give the Eagles defense credit, they whipped us up front. I don't disagree with the decision to go for it on fourth and goal, but as much as I like what Aaron Stecker has done for us, I question giving the ball to a guy with a bad wheel after we've been stuffed on the two previous running plays. Then, of course, came the questionable roughing call and the downward spiral.

As disheartening as yet another home loss in a key situation was, there were a few good things to talk about. I continue to be impressed with Stecker's performance. He looked like a monster in the early going, then came back after being carted off to finish the game strong. The guy has shown nothing but heart since replacing Reggie Bush, maybe more than anyone else out there in black and gold. He deserves a shot at earning a starting job somewhere, and as much as I'd like to keep him in New Orleans, he may just get it after this performance.

And what about Martin Grammatica? Sure, it's only four kicks, but after what we went through with Olindo Mare early in the season, it's pretty exciting to this Saints fan -- especially the 55-yarder under pressure at the end of the first half.

So, there's still hope, but getting to the playoffs at 8-8 isn't exactly an exciting proposition. It's almost like cheating in a way when you get in because someone loses instead of because you won the right. It feels like a recipe for one and done.

Don't get me wrong. Next weekend, I'll be in front of my TV, screaming for the Saints. I'll be back there cheering for Denver, and even though I'd rather have my fingernails ripped out than cheer for the Cowboys, I'll even hope they win. At this point, though, I think it's time to start talking about getting our key players healthy, the draft and fixing our defensive problems for next year.

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