Cue every sportscaster in America: "The Saints were never for real anyway. When we said they'd run the table, we didn't really mean it. The Vikings now look like the team to beat in the NFC."
Cue every friend and family member I have in or from Dallas (which is many): "WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!! That's why they're America's Team! What great news that they won."
Cue every friendly stranger who saw me sporting my Saints cap in public last night: "Aw, tough break, huh? Your boys went down. Ouch."
Cue every sportscaster again: "Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts mmmmmmfffffffffffffffffffffffff..."
Cue, hopefully, a reality check in the Saints' locker room.
I now despise the Dallas Cowboys with all the fervor that I hate the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. Forget the NFC Championship game; I still hold a grudge against the Bears for booting the Saints out of the playoffs in the 1990-91 season. And I was 10 years old then. I will always hate the Cowboys from here on out. They are bad guys. Fuck them.
It's not all their fault, though. I hate that the Saints played with no heart for three quarters. At home. Against a team from a city that represents neocon, overcompensatory America at its most excessive. One that hadn't beaten the Saints in 15 years and was known for its recent collapses in December. One with a quarterback about as likable as Tom Brady but without the redeeming qualities. A team I had nevertheless consistently pulled for all season, but who had shown staggering incompetence seemingly every time I did so.
When I felt bad for DeMarcus Ware last week, I had no idea his astonishingly fast recovery would contribute so much to the Saints' downfall. Between that and the rash of injuries to the Saints last night, I'm rethinking my longstanding scoffing at the notion that the Cowboys are God's team. They must be. Thanks, God. Jerry Jones owes you one.
Sorry if I seem a little dramatic. But this loss has led to exactly what I feared most: a barrage of fluke talk, smug superiority from Dallas fans and questions about whether a 13-1 team is any good based on one loss because they happen to be the Saints.
The Saints mean more to their city than most teams do to theirs. They certainly mean a lot to me, and were pretty much the last thing giving me unconditional joy in these past few weeks. So it's going to hurt this week to not only not be able to see a lot of encouraging political commentary, but also not be able to revel in the Saints' apparently fleeting run at the top (at least in the analysts' minds).
With a victory over the Cowboys, I would have considered this a perfect season, even if they lost their remaining two games. But as it stands, Dallas is the only team the Saints have played this season that they didn't beat (this counts the preseason, where the Saints dropped to Miami but beat them in the regular season). It's possible the two could square off in the playoffs, so that's still on the table. Would be an interesting matchup, to say the least.
One thing's for certain: Dallas killed any chance of making the Super Bowl this year with this win. Even with all their injuries, the Saints might very well have just gotten the catalyst they need to return to their original (and rightful) routing ways, and the road to Miami stops in New Orleans. In that respect, last night's game was the wrong outcome for the Cowboys as well.