With three straight playoff appearances from 2009 through 2011, the Saints and Who Dat nation grew accustomed to postseason play, but after a dismal 7-9 campaign a year ago in the aftermath of Bounty Gate, the Black-and-Gold have a new perspective.
"We know how difficult it is, going through what we did last year," linebacker Junior Galette said. "So we are a lot more grateful, we're humbled. You know, we're the six-seed, but it doesn't matter, we're gonna take it one game at a time. "
Defensive end Cam Jordan added, "It was a fight to get in here. If anything, we just need to capitalize on the opportunity that's presented to us and not take for granted anything."
A fresh start in 2013 saw the Saints find their stride early, hit a wall late but finish strong in the end to punch their ticket, and give the franchise a chance to win its second world championship in a five-season span.
"You know, winning 11 games this year is definitely a big achievement for us," offensive guard Ben Grubbs said. "You know, being in the postseason, even though it's the wild card. Being in the postseason is definitely a blessing, and we're going to take advantage of it."
Recent history is actually on the Saints' side this post-season. Back in 2005 and 2010, a pair of 6-seeds went on to win the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. And while that doesn't make the road ahead for the Black-and-Gold any less difficult, the Saints say they do welcome the challenge of postseason play on the road, and of course, that do-or-die playoff mentality.
"Knowing that if we lose, we're going home," Jordan said. "That's the way it's got to be, and I love it. There's nothing like putting your back up against the wall and just fighting your way out."
Offensive tackle Zach Strief added, "Once you get to the playoffs, it's a one-game season. We've got three of them. It doesn't matter, what happened before, the same way that if you win one game, it doesn't matter that you won on the road the game before. Every game is win or go home, it's do-or-die, and that's what makes it exciting. That's what makes it special."
And the story of a special Saints season of redemption begins its next chapter on Saturday night.
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Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-04-24 02:42:24 GMT
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