.200 Never Felt So Good

9 Oct

This shit happened Sunday. Really.

Wow, I have to tell you, that was well worth 43 bucks, am I right? It seems like I was miserable at times during the second half, but in hindsight, that might have been the best game (objectively, regardless of my fan affiliation) I’ve ever watched in the Dome. It was incredible. I try to imagine being impartial and I know I’d say “damn, that was pretty fucking entertaining.”

That game had it all, didn’t it? Two records, one a 52-year-old unbreakable benchmark*, the other a team record that I had absolutely no clue was about to be broken. It had turnovers, good defense at times, great offense at times, big plays from both teams, a back-and-forth affair where probably each team’s fans felt like this thing might be out of reach at some point or another.

* The record is incredible, it was amazing to watch Drew break it in person, and that’s all I’ll say about it. It’s been beaten to death already, and I have little to add except “fuck yes, first ballot hall of famer.” I think I’ll write about it at length when the streak ends. In 2015 or whatever. Fuck yes.

And, goddamn, we won the damn thing. Nice touch right there, Saints.

The atmosphere was incredible, too. For you folks that couldn’t make it to the game, yes, the crowd was a little shocked at the end of the first half. I had trouble paying attention to any noise levels because right down the aisle in 642 sat a couple dickbag Chargers fans who got a little too loud after that touchdown to close the first half. We’re great to opposing fans, at least in my section, but these guys asked for it – and they got it the entire second half of that game. You reap what you sow, dicks.

(Anyone reading this who sat near the crowd of Chargers fans at the top of the terrace around 636 or 637, I’d love to know what that dude did to get hauled off by New Orleans’ finest. Feel free to comment below…)

That raucous crowd really got into things in the second half – that weird series at the end of the fourth with like 9 offensive penalties negated in one fell swoop by a single defensive five-yarder was weird and loud and also weird. The 3rd-quarter possession where Pierre Thomas put the damn team on his back for about 3 carries and had to come out without a helmet: holy shit, nobody needed provocation to get up and make some noise for the dude. That was a cool moment. Pierre, my friends, is a tough bastard.

I say all that not to offer a critique of the energy in the terrace or even to give credit to anyone for making enough noise or whatever the hell people who do that kind of thing do. I say all that to make the point that finally, Sunday night, I think most everyone felt like we could actually win a damn game for the first time. When we were up against the Chiefs, I never really felt safe.

God help me, when we went up by four with 9:00 left in the fourth I honestly felt that our defense could win the game for us. I hope that when the Saints return to the dome in four weeks (ugh) I still feel that way. But for one night, I was vindicated – as the defense got a turnover, we kicked a field goal, and the defense finally ended the game for good with a sack fumble.

I said, the game ended on a sack fumble.

I’m not sure you heard me right. Pay attention.

The game ended on a sack fumble.

Holy shit.

Let’s talk about that defense. Some are still down on these guys, and I don’t get it. You can’t give them props for at least the one effort Sunday? Before we get started, let me get one thing out of the way. Here are three things I don’t give one flying shit about:

1. The number of yards any defense allows in the course of a game, season, or drive, whether measured by total offense, rushing, or passing.

2. Any ranking based on any statistic covered in #1.

3. Any measure of individual plays that is based on yardage or individual efficacy, such as the “big play” count or yards per carry or yards per passing attempt.

Why? None of that has anything to do with the end result of that defense’s taking the field.

“But Angry Who Dat, how the hell are we supposed to know if our defense is good?”

The scoreboard, asshole. A defense’s job (especially a defense that shares a roster with Drew Brees and Marques Colston and Devery Henderson and Darren Sproles and Pierre Fucking Thomas) is not to allow the least number of yards possible. Their job is to minimize the other team’s scoring, in order to allow the offense to outscore the other team. Because, at the end of the day, folks, the scoreboard is all that matters.

Defense doesn’t win championships any more. Defense allows the offense to win championships. You’d think we would understand this by now in New Orleans. The 2009 defense (you might want to be sitting down for this) wasn’t that good. They were opportunistic, they made a stop when they needed to, and they kept the other team off the scoreboard long enough to allow Drew Brees and Company to make more points than them. It’s really that simple.

So how did the defense play Sunday night by this awesome new measure, Points The Other Motherfuckers Actually Scored (PTOMAC™)?

Well, let’s see. There were two really, really ugly drives in the first half. San Diego got the ball on their own 9 at 10:22 in the first, and at their own 14 with 1:12 left in the half. Both resulted in touchdowns, and the latter was downright atrocious. That, ladies and gentleman, covers the entire sum of the defense’s failed efforts during a primetime game against a pretty damn good offense.

“They scored three touchdowns. You realize that, right?”

Yeah, I do. To be fair, the third one was on the offense. You can’t just give the ball to a team like the Chargers on your own 25 and expect the defense to make a stop. You just can’t.

Including that bullshit drive that started on the Saints’ 25 (because PTOMAC requires it, even with caveat), the results of the Chargers’ offensive drives were 3 & Out, Touchdown, Punt, Field Goal, Missed Field Goal, Touchdown, Punt, 3 & Out, Interception, Fumble. See a pattern? Yeah, after two really ugly drives in the first half, and a gift-wrapped touchdown to start the second half, the Chargers ran four more drives to close the game. The tally? 28 plays, 84 yards, two punts, and two turnovers. That, my friends, is the very essence of bend-but-don’t-break.

If you’re willing to allow some leeway on the 25-yard-possession to start the second half, it can be put thusly: given ten opportunities to possess the ball starting in their own territory, the Chargers came away with 17 points.

Shit yes.  I don’t know about you folks, but I’ll take that every Sunday this season with a smile on my face. We’ll outscore every team in the league. 12-4 is a legitimate possibility if this same defense can show up every week (I’m not saying they necessarily will). That little parenthetical is the question, isn’t it? What’s real? This defense, or the second half we saw against the Chiefs?

I see a steady progression through five games. I see a defense – and an offense for that matter – that has simply gotten better each week without fail. It lends credence to the idea that this isn’t a mirage, that something real is happening. Maybe, as I said a couple weeks ago when I predicted a win over the Packers, the Saints are simply encouraging the delusion right now. I said that before I saw what I saw Sunday night, though. What I saw Sunday night was a second-half defense that was simply dominant.

“Wait, dominant?  Dominant?  Really?”

Come on, people. You haven’t been paying attention. Go back up and read again. We measure our own defense by PTOMAC™ here at the Angry Who Dat. I don’t want to hear any of that yardage shit. Five drives, one resulting in points. The classic defenses of the last ten years – Ravens, Steelers, etc. – wouldn’t ask any more of their squads. I certainly don’t intend to imply that Spags is running the 2000 Ravens defense here. All I’m trying to get across is that Sunday night’s performance was good enough. Good enough to win a few games, good enough to win in the playoffs, and good enough to win a Super Bowl.

The only question is whether the squad that we saw the other night will prove to be real. This is Illegitimate Homer Asshole Internet Media right here, so for the next two weeks, I choose to believe they will. And I’ll enjoy the shit out of this win. Join me, and let’s believe just for another 12 days that this defense really is turning around.

It’ll make your work week so much better.

And when we return to the Dome for a seven-day stretch in November starting with Monday night against the Eagles and ending the following Sunday at noon, knowing that on November 11 we can come away with a winning record through nine games and a mighty blow against those asshole Falcons, you’ll be able to hold your head high and say “I told you motherfuckers we could do this!” like an entire asshole.

If it doesn’t work out that way? If this is all ultimately bullshit, and a losing record is imminent anyway, and someone says, “hey, remember when you got all pumped up after one win and thought we were going to win all the things?”

Well, if that happens, point out to that asshole that you’re a fan, and you’re supposed to be a homer, and you’re supposed to be an asshole, and you’re supposed to be irrational, and besides, remember how much damn fun the bye week was?

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