The New Orleans Saints were perfect last night.
And by that I mean, they were so atrocious in a way that undercuts everything they've done so far this year, that it can only be described as perfection.
When they lost in the last second to the Patriots, it was heartbreaking. But ultimately, it was easy to get over because that's what it took for one of football's consistently best teams to pull off a win at home. Also, there was an uncalled holding on that play. So that loss did little to dent the Saints' elite status.
Even the Jets loss wasn't that tough to stomach. After all, the Saints practically guarantee at least one game per year where they play Bizarro World awful ball (this game is usually against the Rams). And 26-20 is hardly an embarrassment.
But the loss to the Seahawks was a disaster in every possible football sense. If ever there was a time to step it up, as opposed to laying the biggest turd in five years, this was it.
The team knew going in that its biggest weakness is - and always has been in the Payton-Brees era, if not always - that they struggle in cold, open-air stadiums on the road. They knew that they had a chance to share the top spot in the NFC with a win, but that a loss would make the rest of the season an uphill climb.
Maybe they knew it too well, because they played nervous from the opening kickoff and never looked back. OK, so they had that one good touchdown drive. But that's it. Their season at the top is essentially ruined; from here on out, they're playing from behind. And they don't look like they want it, let alone have the skill to hang with the big boys.
The only way to truly redeem this season will be to beat the Seahawks in the playoffs. Which will happen in Seattle, if it happens at all. And I'm not sure they have what it takes after last night's collapse.
The Saints did not show up last night. The losers that took the field in Seattle are not the team I know and love and do not deserve one modicum of respect. I never want to see them again.
I took my first-ever trip to Seattle this weekend to watch this game. The trip has been a blast. The city is vibrant and the people are friendly. As Seahawks fans, they're passionate and (mostly) amenable. But that loss was brutally hard to take there. The fans had every reason to gloat right in our faces, and they did. So thanks a lot for that.
I still love you, Saints, but just like you'll have to claw back up in the conference race, so will you have to earn back the respect you blew last night.