This may sound crazy considering the first half of the Saints season has featured two losses on last second plays and a complete shellacking at the hands of their most hated rival, but yesterday's dismissal at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs was easily the most deflating of the bunch. On paper it's tough to be upset about taking an L from an above average team that's gotten fat of their home-field advantage but - to steal a nauseating cliche from Russell Wilson's seemingly endless barrel of them - the game isn't played on paper. Yesterday I didn't watch one team struggle due to the performance of another team. Yesterday I watched one team struggle to get out of their own way.
I won't sit here and solely blame Mark Ingram for a red-zone fumble because he hasn't let the ball hit the turf in well over a year. Nor will I sit here and solely blame Drew Brees for a pick-six because he's the only reason this team is watchable and - truth be told - it was really more of a bad bounce than an awful decision. I won't even sit here and solely blame Nick Fairley for taking a selfish, brainless penalty that cost his offense one last opportunity to tie or win the game. Partly because I don't feel it's right to put that on him when he played despite dealing with the recent death of his mother (R.I.P.), but also because that play - much like the interception and the fumble - was merely representative of the host of ways in which the Saints beat themselves yesterday.
For the first time this year injuries and/or a lack of talent can't be used as an excuse, because New Orleans loaded that pistol and blew off both of their own damn feet. I can live with making Alex fucking Smith look like a gunslinger and Jairus Byrd finding creative new ways to avoid tackling. Those are problems that are reflective of the personnel. What I can't live with is taking so many 'Delay Of Game' penalties that I'm half surprised we aren't still waiting for the game to end. Wasted timeouts? Unforced, pre-snap errors? Those are characteristic of bad football teams, and after 3 weeks without a loss (always count the BYE) I was beginning to think the Saints had the chance to be something slightly better than bad.
As has remained the case in previous years, the door was open for them to make headway in the division (seeing as Atlanta ended up losing) and all they did was everything in their power to slam that door shut. Piss poor pass defense and letting opposing running backs literally have a field day are things that I have come to expect, but I thought this team was past the turnover and penalty ridden performances that could render even the most formidable roster a losing one. It's games like that which limit the amount of optimism one can feel for the impending return of Delvin Breaux and Sheldon Rankins, because there's no amount of talent that can overcome stupid.