I guess it really is in the eye of the beholder, eh? Because for such an "ugly" win, it sure was a thing of beauty to me.

I don't know, maybe the Dome smelled of burnt toast all day Sunday, but from where I was sitting, I was getting a big ole whiff of that pungent aroma we all remember from back in 2009. I was smelling Greatness. And it gave me that special kind of boner that I haven't had since those days. If it didn't have that effect on you, well then I consider that a damn shame. Hopefully it'll look a lot different to you when you look back on it in February.

Because this win was special. One of those season-defining kind of efforts. An "I Believe!" game. The kind you look back on when it's all over and realize that it spoke volumes about what was yet to come.

To shamelessly mangle a sentiment once expressed by John F Kennedy: This win wasn't beautiful because it was easy, it was beautiful because it was hard.

Think back to the 2009 regular season. Which games do you remember most vividly? Which ones do you still talk about? Which ones do you refer back to when you're trying to explain when it really clicked for you that it might very well be The Year?

There's the righteous week 12 38-17 beatdown of the Patriots, of course. And that was glorious. No argument there.

But I'd venture to guess that the week 7 comeback from 10 down in the 4th quarter against Miami, and the week 13 comeback from down 10 in the 4th quarter against Washington are the next two on the list.

This was one of those. Only better.

This one was at home, on a special day. By all indications, Houston is a hell of a lot better than Miami (7-9) and Washington (4-12) were in 2009. The Saints weren't just playing to extend a long win streak, they were playing to avoid going 1-2. They were playing to avoid falling behind in the division.

It's not much of a stretch to say that, even this early in the season, they were playing to avoid going behind the 8-ball. 2010 taught us how difficult it is to come back from that, even if it's only a one-game deficit after week 3.

In short, it was a much bigger game than either of those. Oh, I know that in week 13 the Saints were trying to hold off Minnesota for the #1 seed in the NFC. Still, this was bigger than that.

And while the Saints overcame two-score 4th quarter deficits in both of those games, the Saints overcame TWO 4th quarter deficits Sunday. They scored an unprecedented 23 points in the 4th quarter. And they did it all without two of their starting offensive linemen, their starting middle linebacker, their starting right corner/nickel corner (TBD, I guess) and their so-called "#1" wideout. (Putting that in quotes isn't intended to be a slight against Colston. It's just an acknowledgement that there's no such thing as a "#1" or "#2" or "#3" wideout. That's just some stupid shit people say.)

Look, scoff at the notion of a "character win" if you must. Roll your eyes at "determination" and "resilience" and "never give up" and all those kinds of intangible things that are usually trotted out in a flurry of bullshit. I get it. Hell, most of the time I'd be right there with you. But didn't 2009 teach us that those kinds of things, at least sometimes, are real? Haven't the Saints made it clear over the last few years that, when they're at their best, those kinds of things play a very real and very significant role in it?

Maybe you still think things like that are mostly bullshit. But I think it's pretty clear that the Saints themselves don't. And that's the important thing. If nothing else, the effect a win like that has on their mindset going forward, reinforcing the notion that they're never out of it and as long as there's time on the clock, they've got a shot, is significant. And quite helpful.

"Yeah but Wang, they wouldn't have to worry about coming back from down two scores in the 4th quarter if they'd just stop sucking ass for the first 3 quarters in the first place. Screw 'resilience' and 'never give up' and all that noise. How about just kicking ass for 60 minutes and stop putting themselves in the position where they have to rely on that kind of stuff?"

Look, nobody loves it more than I do when the Saints go all Clubber Lang and/or Ivan Drago on a bunch of hapless chumps. But, this just in: it's the fuckin' NFL. And Houston is far from a bunch of hapless chumps. They've had a top-5 offense for 3+ years now, for crying out loud. Matt Schaub was 4th in the league last year in passing yards, and had a passer rating higher than Drew Brees. Andre Johnson is widely regarded as the single best wideout in the league right now. And on and on like that.

What did you expect, a blowout? A 3-score win in which the outcome was never in doubt? Come on now. That's what October is for. (And in the meantime, that's what LSU is for. High five!)

Hey, if the Saints looking like a full-blown fuckin' juggernaut is what does it for ya, I suspect that you're in for a heaping helping of it over the next month. Jacksonville, Carolina, Tampa, Indy and St Louis. Strap in, folks, because shit's about to get real fun.

Unless it doesn't, that is. Seattle sure did do one hell of a number on a pretty large segment of the Saints fanbase. You'd think people would be over it by now, but apparently not.

Hell, if you'd have told me before the season that the Saints defense would give up 931 offensive yards and 75 points combined to Green Bay and Houston — two top-5 offenses with top-5 quarterbacks and top-5 wideouts — and yet still come away with a win in one of those two games, I damn sure would have taken it.

But many Saints fans are so caught up in the portents of impending DOOOOOOM(!!!) because THE DEFENSE BLOWS(!!!) AGAIN(!!!) ESPECIALLY ROMAN HARPER(!!!) AND THE LINEBACKERS(!!!) they seem almost oblivious to what a great, great win that was. Half of 'em were calling "game over" at fucking halftime, for crying out loud.

Which was incredibly lame, because it should have been obvious even before kickoff that there was no way in hell the Saints were losing that game. The 5th anniversary of the re-opening of the Dome might have been enough on its own. But then the news on Steve Gleason broke. Then there was the Gleason pregame ceremony. Then there was the defense holding Houston to 3 field goals on 4 trips to the red zone in the first half, limiting Houston to a mere 6-point lead at the half when it should have been a hell of a lot larger than that.

Once upon a time, those kinds of things would have produced any number of #iamnotworried and/or #wegotthis tweets and whatnot.

Instead, even as the Saints were in the victory formation finishing out one of the most improbable comeback wins in franchise history, it was all "Yeah, but…"

The Saints kept Andre Johnson out of the end zone all game. "Yeah, but…"
They limited Ben Tate to 82 rushing yards. "Yeah, but…"
They sacked Matt Schaub twice and intercepted him once. "Yeah, but…"
Houston was 6 of 14 on 3rd down. "Yeah, but…"
Houston was 1 of 5 in the red zone and 0 for 1 in goal-to-go. "Yeah, but…"

There's no such thing as a moral victory. Just victory. The Saints got the latter Sunday, and therefore don't have to worry about trying to rationalize the former into existence. "Yeah, but…" Moral defeats don't exist either, but if you didn't know any better…

Look, I know a lot of this reads like I'm "scolding" or whatever, and I apologize. I don't intend to come off like that. We here at moosedenied have always maintained that fans ought to be fans any way they damn well choose to be fans. And if that means curling up in a fetal position and waiting for the other shoe to drop, well, more power to ya. I guess. If it means focusing on portents of DOOOOM(!!!) which may or may not come to fruition sometime in the future, well, good luck with aaaall that. If it means snarking on (or pissing all over) a Signature Win™ because it wasn't quite as pretty or as dominating as you'd have liked, then hey, whatever does it for ya.

I just think it's a shame is all. I just wish you could see the beauty in it. Hey, maybe the Saints will go all Clubber Lang with it this weekend at Jacksonville. Those are always fun. And if they don't? If the defense gives up 30+ and the Saints have to escape with a close win or, perish the thought, actually lose? Then hey, I'll be right there with ya.

But not this week. The Saints are way more Balboa than they've ever been Lang/Drago anyway. And isn't that how we like it? Wouldn't the movies bore the shit out of you if Balboa didn't get his ass kicked for the first 8 rounds?

"Yo Adrian!!!"
"Yeah, but…"

Really? Really? I suspect not.

You wanna talk portents? They're all there. You're just looking at the wrong ones. The Football Gods are smiling down on us once again. The Saints have scored 30+ points in each of their first 3 games. Not even in 2009 did they do that. (And back in 2009, it was Buffalo (6-10) and Detroit (2-14) ) Drew's got That Look in his eye once again. The rushing game is back. They're pulling victory from the jaws of defeat again.

They've just dispatched with what most people would call the most difficult stretch on the schedule. And they're 2-1. Leading the NFC South. One game back of the best record in the conference. A game up on the Falcons. And with what most people would consider the soft underbelly of the schedule starting right… NOW!

And at the risk of being insensitive, there's also the matter of Team Gleason.

Look, I love Steve Gleason as much as the next guy (Saints fan or not.) Always have and always will. Which is why I'm nervous about what I'm about to say, because God knows I don't want to reduce Gleason and his situation to some kind of mascot, some kind of rallying point for the team. To objectify him. Clearly Steve's situation is much bigger than football. Steve's life, and the mindboggling amount of good he's done with it, and hopefully will continue to do with it for a long long time, transcend football. By a lot. A whole fuckin' lot.

So please forgive me if it comes off like I'm not giving Gleason his proper respect by talking about his situation within the context of the 2011 Saints, or if it seems like I'm not appreciating the gravity of his situation in human terms. Please believe me when I say that I do appreciate that. More than I ever intend for you to know.

But I'll leave the (genuine) emoting to others who are more comfortable with it than I am. Just know that I wholeheartedly support any and all tributes to Gleason's unparalleled awesomeness.

Meantime, at the risk of being crass and/or glib, it's not insignificant that the 2011 Saints find themselves once again armed with one of those "bigger than football" touchstones to inspire them to make Special Things happen.

And with no slight intended to the whole "Do it for the city!" thing, which sustained and genuinely inspired and elevated the team for four fuckin' years(!!!) until they finally made good on their pledge, I've got a hunch that this is gonna prove even more powerful than that. Because it's personal. It's a teammate, a friend.

It's a bona fide "Win One For The Gipper" kind of thing. It's Mickey. It's Apollo. Insert your own analogy here. They all apply.

Team Gleason, bitches. #wegotthis

Sunday was just the beginning. It wasn't beautiful because it was easy. It was beautiful because it was hard.

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