Roger Goodell may be the "commish who stole Christmas" as far as the Saints are concerned. But he couldn't steal their heart. That beats loudly and clearly this Christmas eve.
Two weeks ago in this space, after the Saints lost their third straight 52-27 to the Giants, essentially to seal their absence from the playoffs, I cautioned to watch the Saints' actions down the stretch and disregard their words. Well, in the next two weeks thereafter the Saints said the right things and then more than underscored them with their play on the field.
Both the Bucs and certainly the Cowboys had far more to play for than the Saints. But the Saints had something even more powerful to play for -- each other.
There was no whining, complaining, begging out of the action, nursing minor injuries to heal for the off-season while the regular season trudged to conclusion.
There was no finger pointing. In fact, Sunday's climactic fumble by Marques Colston and recovery by Jimmy Graham in overtime provided a graphic illustration of that.
Jimmy Graham's ring finger on his right hand in Arlington was pointing toward Plano after he dislocated it on a seven-yard reception. When the trainers wrenched it back into place on the sidelines during the next play -- a one-yard run by Mark Ingram -- it might have been the Saints' biggest "in-game adjustment" of the season.
On the very next play, Graham was recovering a Marques Colston fumble at the Dallas two to save the game for Garret Hartley to win.
Upon further review by referee Walt Coleman the play was upheld because Colston made "a football move" after the reception. Then Graham made "a basketball move," diving on the turf for the football as he had so many times the basketball on the hardwoods. Floor burns and turf burns earned as red badges of courage – Graham playing despite a dislocated finger and an ailing wrist that would have excused his inordinate amount of drops had he chosen to acknowledge it earlier in the season.
Colston has had more than his share this season too. But don't be surprised if after the season the stoic wide receiver doesn't need surgery on a damaged hand that I understand has plagued him for much of it.
Maybe with two good hands Colston doesn't fumble at the Cowboy 24. Despite not having two good hands, Graham recovers at the two.
Each there for the other... accountable... available... no matter what the circumstances. No excuses.