(Last week: 10-6)
OK, it's been nearly 24 hours. I think I got most of my rage out.
The 49ers game was just about as perfect a microcosm of the Saints' 2014 season as we ever need to see. A bafflingly bad start; opponents suddenly excelling at things they couldn't do in practice before; the feeling that it was over for the Saints at the half; a sudden resurgence of stunning greatness that made you think everything would be all right; and, of course, an inability to close so spectacular that it would be edited out of a fiction novel for being too preposterous.
Every loss burns, of course. But the 49ers game had every negative emotion there is for Saints fans: anger, sadness, heartbreak, denial, confusion, frustration, resignation. The Saints had that game won about four times, but lost it the time it finally counted. I don't know if that's worse than a blowout, but it's at least equally lousy.
That Hail Mary. Oh man, that Hail Mary. The rush of winning a game in the most thrilling way possible, even if just for a split-second, is hard to come down from. I'm willing to concede that Jimmy Graham pushed off, which pretty much directly led to his ability to catch that ball (though maybe not, which is worse). But one thing that will stay with me about this game, and will take me longer to get over than the outcome itself, is this:
Even if Graham did push, Perrish Cox flopped like a shady soccer player. He didn't have to do that, but he did. Which tells me that he was determined to affect the outcome of the game whether or not he was in the right. BOO. That burned me every second of overtime. Again, overtime most likely should have happened. But I'm disappointed that Graham wasn't able to score the winning TD reception in OT as Cox flopped helplessly to the Superdome turf for real, taking some loose pieces home to remind himself evermore that they don't hand out Oscars in the NFL.
Also, Drew Brees is getting better at taking a sack, in the sense that he did it once or twice, but should have done it more times than that (though his refusal to swallow his pride led to some awesome plays Sunday, so who knows?). Or, short of that, get an O-line that works so that he doesn't have to make that decision six times a game. Something.
As much as I hated this game and its home-streak-ending properties, I don't think it says as much about the Saints as the previous two games. The 49ers have obnoxious elements from top to bottom, but (like the Saints) they're better than their record suggests. They had to win to stay alive in the NFC more than the Saints did. And even then, they barely got it done after squandering a commanding lead.
All this game really proved for the Saints is that they can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and we already knew that.