Nearly a year ago the saints and their fans slinked away from the Georgia Dome, anxious to end a season that never truly began. The cheers for the home team still echoed through the building as visions of Super Bowls danced in the heads of an 11-1 football team closing in on the NFC's number one seed.
What a difference a year has made. A year ago Saints fans wondered if Sean Payton would be back. A year later Falcon fans debate whether Mike Smith should be back.
A year ago the Falcons were stopping Drew Brees' touchdown streak. Last night the Saints were stopping Matt Ryan's.
A year ago Matt Bryant was hitting a 55 yard field goal in the Falcon win. Last night he was missing a crucial 52 yarder after hitting 6 straight beyond 50 yards.
Now it's the Falcons for whom the season can't end soon enough and the Saints for whom the post-season will end too soon unless it concludes in victory in February at MetLife Stadium.
As the Saints left the Georgia Dome field last night they were saluted by the Who Dat cheer which reverberated through the stands, long-emptied of weary Falcon fans.
The Falcons will next go to Toronto to play Buffalo, attempting to break a five-game losing streak. The Saints will next go to Seattle, attempting to stretch their winning streak to four in the most anticipated game of the NFC season to date.
Two heavyweights battling for the conference's top seed the Monday following Thanksgiving. "The showdown after the throwdown."
Next Thursday, let us pause between forkfulls of oyster dressing to give thanks for the blessings of the season -- the holiday season and the football season -- and how each has made the other so much better than a year ago.
We gather amongst loved ones to break bread, count our blessings, and re-set our fantasy teams...just like the pilgrims did. We carve up this bird having carved up another in the Falcons and anticipating doing the same to a third in the Seahawks.