45 points, 2 defensive turnovers, and an explosive running game: I don't know about you Saints fans, but if that's what "rust" looks like, then wrap me in metal and drop me in a bucket of water, 'cause I wanna be "rusty" all the way to Miami! In a fervid, emotionally charged Super Dome, the New Orleans Saints chewed up, spit out, and danced on the remains of the Arizona Cardinals. It was a certified ass whoopin' and it was a long time coming.
"So much for being rusty," Sean Payton said with a mischievous grin in his post game news conference. He, like his team, and us fans, have heard all the talk since the Cowboys game that the Saints had lost their mojo. The team was on a 3-game losing skid going into the playoffs. They'd put up a measly, by Saints standards, combined point total of 44 in their last three games. So what if they'd won 13 straight prior to that. Who cares how they won those games. The Saints last three losses would define their season, right? Drew Brees and company responded on the field against the Cardinals on Sunday with a collective "Child please!"
The highlight for the Cardinals happened in the first 30 seconds of the game when Tim Hightower ran for a 70 yard touchdown from scrimmage. After that, they were pretty much manhandled on both sides of the ball. Paw Paw Warner almost got split in two by Bobby McCray after an interception. The Saints offensive line gave Drew Brees enough time to order and eat a po boy in the pocket. And Reggie Bush...oh Reggie Bush. A wise woman predicted that this would be Bush"s breakout game. She's too humble to care about getting credit for her clairvoyance. But you gotta hand it to me...I mean, uh, her. She knows her football.
Bush, who'd been dubbed one of the most overrated players of the decade, figured out the best way to deal with that chip on his shoulder; drop low and pound your way between the tackles. (Either that or Kim Kardashian pulled some moves out of her old bag of tricks before kickoff that would make even Jenna Jameson blush.) Regardless of what inspired Reggie to play up to his potential, he was the certified MVP in a game of some very valuable players and amazing plays. This was the Reggie we'd been waiting for. He was confident, he made smart decisions, he found the hole and he never relented. Oh yeah, he's got that USC swagger back, but without all the shucking and jiving to the sidelines that drives us fans so nuts. After the game, Bush said "Big-time players make big-time plays in games like this." If he wants to be considered among the big-time players, 84 yards and 2 TDs including a punt return for a score is no doubt the way to make it happen.
Before the game, Sean Payton gave the team bats engraved with the words "Bring the wood"...and that they did. Maybe it was that symbolic message from the head coach or the re-signing of beloved running back Deuce McAllister that helped to re-energize this team. Maybe it was seeing Brad Pitt on the sidelines with his adorable son. Or maybe, just maybe, the Saints really are that damn good.
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