Okay, so the Saints lost; I’m still a fan

Published 10:33 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yes, I know, the Saints lost the NFC championship 39-14 even though I picked the Saints to win by 10.

Good thing I’m not a sports editor. Those poor guys and gals have to be realistic, or at least that’s what they say. I think they just love popping everyone else’s balloon.

I was really glad to see on television Sunday night that so many Saints fans went to the airport to wait for the Saints to fly home. The fans wanted to cheer up the boys. I think that’s great.

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I also loved WWL’s story on the Carmelite nuns in Covington who also cheered on the Saints. The nuns understood how important it was for people in New Orleans and others in South Louisiana and South Mississippi to have something to cheer them up as they try to overcome all the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Well, the Saints surely have done that. It was a long and joyous ride as Saints fan this year, unlike so many years past.

The group I watched the game with were down at the end of the game. The score really hurt them. I fully understand. However, as I thought back over the game I found lots to be optimistic about.

First of all, the Saints defense made the Bears struggle for the end zone for most of the game, making them settle for field goals in the early going. The offense challenged the Bears vaunted defense pretty well, at least early in the game. In fact, if it hadn’t been for a couple of poor calls by officials in the early part of the game, I believe the game would have been much closer. Unfortunately, given the way the Bears played, especially their defense, especially in forcing the turnovers and in forcing Brees to hurry so much that he actually suffered a safety, I have to recognize that it is likely the Bears still would have won.

The Saints appeared to come alive at the end of the second quarter and early in the third quarter. Unfortunately, there was the rest of the third quarter and the bloody fourth quarter.

As we Saints fans are fond of saying, wait ’til next year. This time, though, there probably will be a good next year. Brees out passed the Bears quarterback Rex Grossman. No, we couldn’t get the running game going in this game and I really don’t know what the reason is for that. Colston, Copper and Karney gave us some moments to remember.

The Deuce had too few touches, in my humble, and non-professional opinion. He’s still a force to be reckoned with, just ask Eagles. Reggie Bush remains potent, both as a running back and as a receiver.

The defense, with a few exceptions, is a lot tougher than it was expected to be at the beginning of the 2006 season.

More importantly, the Saints still have Sean Payton as coach.

No one can predict the outcome of a new season this early on, but I expect that at worst the Saints will have another winning season in 2007. I also expect the team to continue being a potent team with a chance at making a serious run at the Super Bowl, because I see more than just a really good coach and a really good group of players, I see a change of attitude in the ownership. I keep hearing that Tom Benson has relinquished some of his power of shaping the team to another family member, especially a granddaughter. Whatever reason, the change is welcome and I hope and pray it continues to bear fruit.

We in Mississippi and Louisiana still have reason, good reason, to cheer during the Super Bowl game, though. Peyton Manning, New Orleans native and the son of Mississippi native Archie of Saints and Ole Miss fame, led the Indianapolis Colts to the AFC championship.

I’m going to go ahead and predict that the Colts will win the Super Bowl. I’m not going to predict by how much, at least not yet. I have two weeks to put my fan-clouded mind to that task.

I suspect the highly vaunted Bears defense will continue to have some folks mesmerized as they make their choices of who will win the game. The saying is that it’s the defense that wins the big games. Well, Colts the defense proved to be too much for the Patriots awesome offense and unless Grossman performs much better against the Colts than he did against the Saints, the Colts will win this one.

For now, though, I’m just looking forward to the game and to reading what all the expert sports editors have to say about it.