When they won their first 13 games, you were wearing blue socks, watched the game in your kitchen, and had eggs for breakfast. After the Saints loss to the Dallas Cowboys in their 14th game of the season, in a moment of quiet reflection, you came to a shocking realization: you had cereal that morning. It's a thought that made you hang your head in shame.
In Sunday's game versus the Bucs, you figured you'd worked out the kinks. Blue socks were on, eggs were eaten, but you decided to watch the game at a friend's house. The Saints took a 17 point lead and all seemed right with the world. But then, out of nowhere, the Bucs...the freaking 2-13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pulled off a magical comeback, only aided by Saints kicker Garrett Hartley's missed 38 yard field goal. And it hit you all at once: you weren't in your kitchen watching the game. Once again, you'd failed your team.
For those of you reading this who don't relate, allow me to welcome you to the world of a Saints fan. We grew up in a city known for it's cultural ties to voodoo and gris gris. If we're willing to stick a pin in a doll to exact revenge, is it really that far fetched for feelings of guilt and superstition to consume how we view our football team's success? One Saints fan noted on Facebook she'd been pregnant all season long but had her baby before the Dallas game. She questioned if the birth of her child had impacted the Saints winning streak. Someone commented on her status, (likely only half-kidding), "Can you put her back in the womb until the playoffs are over?"
I witnessed and suffered from the paranoia first hand. My mother and sister, who hadn't watched an entire Saints game all season until Dallas last week, were shooed out of rooms and even banning themselves from TVs once they realized the Saints had blown their 17 point lead against Tampa Bay. I myself felt guilt for scheduling a flight too close to game time, tearing me away from my Saints when they needed me most. After all, I'd had a system all year. "Either watch home games at home or be in the dome as it's happening. They need me." As I pulled up to the airport, just after Garrett Hartley's missed field goal, I found myself guilt-ridden. It wasn't just Marques Colston. I too had dropped the ball.
But the feeling didn't last long. I had a moment of clarity. Despite these two disappointing losses, no matter how innate it is to turn to the supernatural in times of crisis, I realized what is happening with the Saints in these final weeks of the season is actually quite natural. Let's face it, if perfect seasons were easy, there would be more than one team in NFL history to have pulled it off. The Saints were bound to drop a game. Dallas isn't a terrible team so it's not so outlandish that their first loss would be to the Cowboys.
I know what you're thinking: "But the Bucs are a terrible team. How could we lose to them? We're in a downward sprial!! AAAAHHHHH!!!!" First, find a paper bag and breathe into it.
No, not like that you bandwagon chump!
There we go. Moving along...remember that the Bucs had nothing to lose and they played like it. The Saints, after getting the fast start they promised, likely got overconfident and complacent at halftime. Plus, we're dealing with injuries and second stringers...blah blah blah. Bottom line: It happens to the best of 'em.
Next, allow me to redirect your attention to the 1998 Broncos. They went on a 13 game winning streak, only to drop back-to-back games to the 5-8 Giants and then to a solid Dolphins team. They won their last game of the season against the Seahawks. Oh, and you know what else they won that year? The Super Bowl.
Here's another team the Saints wouldn't mind being mentioned in the same sentence as: The 2006 Indianapolis Colts. They went on a 9 game winning streak and lost four of their last seven. Among them, a week 15 loss against the 4-10 Houston Texans...a crappy division rival...and they loss by 3 points. Sound familiar? That also just so happens to be the same year they won a Super Bowl.
The point is, neither science nor superstition can sway the outcome of an NFL season. Home field advantage doesn't win playoff games neither does a team's record in the final four weeks of the regular season. As any Patriots fan will tell you, something as outlandish as a guy catching a ball with his helmet can determine a Super Bowl champion, perfect season be damned.
Sure the Saints didn't give their all on Sunday but they've given us a heck of a season thus far and losing to the Bucs isn't exactly the equivalent of dropping the first game of the playoffs. Charles Grant was right to be ticked off with Saints "fans" who booed them as the team headed into the tunnel after the game. Two back to back losses and suddenly we treat the man we were just calling "Breesus" like he's the second coming of Rex Grossman. That's ridiculous. I mean who are we, Eagles fans?
So Saints fans, I implore you to stop obsessively changing jerseys every quarter. And please all you new moms, do not attempt to stuff your newborn back into your birth canal. If you want to believe in something supernatural as it relates to your team, believe in destiny. Cheer them on with all your heart, believe that they'll learn from their mistakes, and then leave it up to the football gods to sort out the rest.
(Oh, but I'd stick with the blue socks, egg breakfast, and game day kitchen viewing for this last one against Carolina...you know, just for the heck of it.)