Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.Well that sure was a kick to the crotch.

And I'm not gonna lie, it rocked my world. I wish it hadn't but it did. It shook my confidence right to the bone. And it changed the way I'll be approaching the season from this point forward.

On one hand, I don't have it in me to bitch and moan and rant and mope my way through the rest of the season. And even if I were capable of that, I'd choose not to. I refuse to let Saints football be a drag and a downer. Those days are long gone, and I'll be damned if I allow them to return. On the other hand, Sunday brought to light certain unpleasant truths which I no longer have it in me to ignore. So, where do I go from here?

The short answer? Five words: Fuck sobriety.

The long answer? Well, I'm no longer viewing the 2011 season as an action flick in which you know going in that sooner or later the hero is gonna kick everybody's asses and walk away triumphant. As of Sunday evening, it's more along the lines of a black comedy which might end with the complete destruction of life as we know it, or a big silly pie fight. We'll find out which cut we're watching sometime in December, I suppose. Until then? Top of the world, Ma! (Sorry for mixing my references there. You get the point though, no?)

Oh sure, maybe Sunday was a fluke. After all, Tampa was pissed. Third straight road game for the Saints, and nobody ever wins 'em all on a 3-game road stretch. The Saints suffered nine separate misfortunes, and once again had to deal with a crew of heel officials. The whole thing was a bad acid trip from the moment Sean Payton's knee got busted up by one of his own players on the third play from scrimmage. The Saints turned the ball over 4 times, couldn't run the ball for shit, and on and on and on like that for as long as you wanna go with it. And still, they had a chance to win it in the end. It goes a little something like that, right?

Nope. Sorry, but there ain't no putting lipstick on that pig. Not this week. This loss wasn't a fluke, it was an eye-opener.

Hey, the good news is that the Bucs still have to go to London this weekend and play Chicago, then after a bye, they've got the Saints in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, then Houston and Green Bay. Atlanta is still a game back, and 2 of their next 3 games are against Detroit and the Saints.

So it's not like Sunday was a season-crushing loss. Just a soul-crushing loss.

Maybe I'm overreacting. I'm open to that notion. And there's no sense in overreacting to a single loss (am I right, Fire Gregg Williams Guy?) But there's no sense in underreacting to it either. And if Sunday wasn't enough to make you step back and retool your expectations, clearly you're a far bigger homer than I am. Either that or you were a far more rational, even-keeled "realist" than I ever was in the first place, and you were right all along because this is totally what you expected.

One of the reasons this post didn't go up yesterday is because I was racking my brain trying to figure out when I'd seen this movie before. Finally figured it out. It was back in 2008. Specifically, November 30, 2008. And it was just as weird. It wasn't exactly the same, it's more like Sunday was a lazily-written sequel where they change a few minor plot points and throw in a couple of mindboggling WTF moments for shock value.

Let's reminisce, shall we? The venue was… Raymond James Stadium, and the villain was… the Bucs. The Saints rushed for a whopping 44 yards. Drew Brees passed the ball 47 times for 296 yards, but threw 3 interceptions. In a monsoon. The Saints outgained the Bucs, but lost 23-20 as the Bucs held the Saints to 20 points or fewer for only the second time that season.

After the game, there was plenty of blame for everybody of course, but most of it ended up landing on Drew Brees and the offense. Only 20 points? This offense is supposed to score 30+ every single fuckin' week! Three interceptions? Get your head out of your ass, Drew! 18 rushes for 44 yards? What are you thinking, Sean Payton?!? This loss is all on the offense, because the defense damn sure did its part. After all, limiting an opponent to only 23 points is a bona fide A+ on the Saints Defense Grading Curve. High five!

Sound familiar?

Here's the scary part: That.

Two seasons and a Lombardi Trophy (high five!) later, and we're right back to 2008. Back to grounding our A+ student for bringing home a B and buying our D student gifts for bringing home a C. Back to the point that on the rare occasion that Drew Brees is anything less than supernatural, we're probably fucked. And clearly it's his fault, because holding the opponent to less than 30 qualifies as a bona fide win for the defense. Or something. Even against an offense that's still 25th in the league with a whopping 18.8 points per game.

I mean, so what if Earnest Graham rushed for 100 yards for the first time since 2008, right? So what if Arrelious Benn is still running after that 65-yard touchdown? So what if Josh Freeman threw for 60 yards above his average, and posted his highest single-game passing total and his highest passer rating of the season? So what if Freeman was neither sacked nor intercepted for the first time this season? So what if the Bucs scored 17 points in the second fucking quarter?

After all, that's just par for the course, right? It was the offense that had the subpar effort, the defense just did what we've come to expect. And, by golly, they even made Tampa punt FOUR TIMES! FOUR! They held Tampa('s 25th ranked scoring offense) to only 26 points(!!!) and only 6 points in the second half! They came up with stops when it mattered. (Because the second quarter apparently doesn't matter.) And 10 of those 26 points came on a short field! Thanks a lot, Drew. Asshole.

But I'm sure running the ball more totally would have helped. Because this offensive line is fucking great, and Olin Kreutz doesn't suck in the least. Right?

Welcome back to 2008, bitches.

Oh, I know. The Saints are gonna kick the shit out of the 0-6 Fightin' Curtis Painters and the 0-5 Flamin' AJ Feeleys the next two weeks and they're gonna be 6-2 and are probably gonna be 2 games up on the rest of the division and everything's gonna be just fine, right? And we'll all meet back here and I'll be shouting from the rooftops about how the Saints are an unstoppable juggernaut and we'll be right back to talking homefield throughout the playoffs.

Maybe. Hope you're right. I'm not holding my breath though. On one hand, I fully expect Drew Brees to be supernatural and carry the rest of this "most talented Saints team ever" to wins more often than not. I still fully expect the offense to carry the team to 10+ wins and the division title. I still expect Tampa and Atlanta to crash and burn.

On the other hand, I no longer trust this defense for shit. Against anybody. They're hanging on for dear life out there. They're old, slow, fat, weak, soft, and undisciplined. They're all but completely helpless, for crying out loud. Any success the defense had Sunday was almost completely the result of the incompetence of Tampa's offense.

Worse yet? They seem so goddamn satisfied with it. "Hey, we made the stops when we had to."

Look, blame the offense and Drew Brees for this loss if you must. After all, FOUR TURNOVERS! Four turnovers, 10 Tampa points off turnovers in a 6-point win, no rushing game, don't stand a fucking chance. Simple as that, right?

Well, yeah. I guess. But it's a bit shortsighted, no? The bigger issue is that this team is 6th in the league in scoring offense and 26th in scoring defense. 2nd in total offense and 17th in total defense. The offense has scored 30+ in 4 of 6 games. The defense has held opponents below 25 twice.

The problem isn't Drew. The problem is that Drew's all we've got.

Once again, welcome to 2008, bitches.

Might as well get used to it. Because Darren Sharper ain't walking through that door. And even if he did, it wouldn't help.

Does that mean all hope is lost? Hell no, not by a long shot. Atlanta and Tampa still blow, and Drew Brees is plenty good enough to carry this team to 10+ wins and a division title. And anything can happen in January. It wouldn't be the first time Drew has carried the team to 3 (or 4) straight wins. Wouldn't even be the first time this season.

But that's what it's gonna take. That much was made obvious Sunday, if it wasn't obvious already.

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