“I don’t think about how good we’ve been,” Brees said. “I think about how good we can be.”
Last night the now 11-0 New Orleans Saints systematically demolished the New England Patriots in the Louisiana Superdome 38-17. Drew Brees, above, threw five touchdown passes as he threw for a season high total 371 yards. His passer rating? 158.3 — which is technically a perfect rating.
This is the first time in NFL history that we have had two teams with 11-0 records — the Indianapolis Colts being the other team that currently remains undefeated. (And yes, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that a New Orleans native, Peyton Manning leads that powerful offensive machine.)
Trying to explain the relationship between the New Orleans Saints and the city itself is not an easy thing to do. That relationship became even more emotional after Hurricane Katrina, when then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the NFL swooped into the city and essentially told Saints owner Tom Benson — “You’re not moving this team.”
The NFL then proceeded to work behind the scenes to assist with the refurbishment of the Louisiana Superdome.
That next season, against a backdrop of many naysayers who never thought it would ever happen, the Saints took the field at the Superdome again. On ESPN Monday Night Football. The game was against the Atlanta Falcons. The game’s opening act? Bono and U2. The mood of the city? Electric. Emotional. Really, really, emotional.
I didn’t think I’d see a game played in that stadium again that would ever come up to the same level of emotional intensity as that one — ever. But last night came pretty damn close.
Because you see, what people don’t understand is that through all the heartache, the pain, and the suffering the city of New Orleans endured during that period of time following the storm, the Saints were something that we all could look at — as a symbol of how the city could return. Would return. All was not lost. There was going to be a better tomorrow after all.
That season, which started with that special game, was magical. One of those things that we see happen in sports every once in awhile. Andre Agassi’s last hurrah at the U.S. Open. An injured Kirk Gibson rounding the bases in the bottom of the ninth of the 1988 World Series. It’s those moments that make sports worth watching.
That season wasn’t about X’s and O’s. It was about a team that played week in and week out on a current of raw emotion — theirs and that of their fans.
Week after week as people tried to rebuild their homes and their lives, as electricity came and went, as basic services remained unavailable, as people in other parts of the country wondered in public just why it was that the city deserved any help at all — the Saints were, oftentimes, the only positive thing that many people had to hold onto in their lives.
The Saints made it all the way to the NFC Championship game that year.
After all was said and done, Drew Brees had found a new home. Bill Parcell’s old protege Sean Peyton clearly had what it took to be a great head coach. And New Orleans’ Saints fans felt like they finally had the nucleus of an honest-to-god championship caliber football team.
Last night — on national television — that championship team we in New Orleans saw born out of a city in ruins was suddenly there. In person. On the field. On my television screen. Making Tom Brady and the New England Patriots regret they had ever shown up.
As sportscaster Al Michaels’ exclaimed when covering the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team’s victory over the USSR, “Do you believe in miracles? “
Yes, sir. I do.