The three game slide late in the 2009 regular season put some doubt in minds of the ‘Who Dat’ faithful, but Saturday’s 45-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round of the playoffs put away any doubt that the 2009 version of the New Orleans Saints were indeed a special football team.
Despite giving up an early 70-yard touchdown run by Cardinal tailback Tim Hightower the black and gold played the most impressive contest of the entire season.
With a star-studded array of celebrities like Brad Pitt, Fats Domino and Spike Lee in the Dome, it was Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Sedrick Ellis, Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sharper, Jabari Greer and yes indeed, Reggie Bush who were the real stars in New Orleans.
Bush stole the football headlines by totaling 217 yards of offense and he scored 2 touchdowns.
The 46-yard run for a touchdown and the 83-yard runback of a punt for a score had the ‘Who Dat Nation’ on their feet and cheering at decibel numbers that were off the charts.
The fans were also ready for action Saturday as numerous times the noise level was so loud that Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner could not properly call audibles to his teammates once he got to the line of scrimmage.
The veteran quarterback who had thrown 5 touchdowns a week earlier against the second-ranked defense in pro football threw for only 205 yards and zero touchdowns against the Saints.
But the most impressive features of this game was the play of the Saints offensive line and a secondary that almost completely shut down one of the most explosive clubs in the NFL.
Offensive linemen rarely get recognized for their efforts, but I have to salute Jon Stinchcomb, Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief, Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks and Jonathan Goodwin for their outstanding play against the Cardinals.
The holes they opened for Bush, Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas and Lynell Hamilton to run through were enormous and they did an excellent job protecting quarterback Drew Brees.
The Saints starting secondary of Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, Darren Sharper, Roman Harper and nickel-back Randall Gay were just as impressive.
This group gave up zero passing scores and the most talented wide receiver in the league Larry Fitzgerald caught only 6 passes for 77 yards.
Now there is only one game to win and the Saints will get to play on the biggest stage in pro football, the Super Bowl.
The Minnesota Vikings are a very talented football team led by veteran Brett Favre, but you just have a feeling this team in black and gold is on a mission.
They have already accomplished one goal this season. They have brought together a community, black and white, rich and poor, young and old, big football fans and the casual observer, to cheer for one common cause.
Rarely does one thing in life have the ability to do so, but sports has always been a common connection for people to get away from some of the harsh realities of life and be as one. For those three to four hours on Sundays people get caught up in one common cause and that is to cheer for their hometown team.
Many Saints players have told me that they understand due to the declining economy and hurricane issues of the past few years that they are playing for more than just themselves.
They understand they are playing for a community that has Saints fever like never before.
Some veteran newsmen and commentators in this community and some in other cities across the NFL scene have dismissed talk that pro football or any sports team can pull a community together.
For those non-believers, just look around and see the team spirit that surrounds you.
Black and Gold in the Super Bowl, boy that would sound nice…