NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Losing a 35-point lead to Detroit would have been absolutely devastating to the Saints. It also would've fallen right in line with the recent history of THIS game.
By THIS game, I mean the in-season game where the Saints could get over five hundred. In the past three seasons, not counting the season openers, the Saints had three separate opportunities to do so. Each year it looked like they would win. Each year they had fourth quarter leads. Yet, each year they lost in bizarre fashion.
In 2014, against San Francisco, Jimmy Graham caught a Hail Mary at the end of the game only to be called for offensive pass interference.
In 2015 against Tennessee, they fell to then rookie Marcus Mariota by six in overtime. You may recall the Saints were cruising to victory when two Saints defenders collided on a would-be interception. Delanie Walker caught the ball off the tip and ran it in for a touchdown.
Last year, there was Denver and 'leaper.' When the Saints scored the game-tying touchdown, Wil Lutz's go-ahead extra point was blocked by a leaping Justin Simmons and returned for two points by Will Davis.
On Sunday, as the Saints' 45-10 lead evaporated to 45-38, it looked like that familiar freaky misfortune would return.
But then it didn't. Cam Jordan's tipped pick in the end zone off Matt Stafford's pass made sure of it.
After 1386 days of waiting, the Saints are over five hundred in the regular season.
As expected, the team downplayed the significance of having more wins than losses on their regular season record for the first time since, December 29, 2013.
"They don't look at the long history picture and I don't encourage them to. There's a lot of new guys on this team that haven't been here for a year. It's good to play and get another win," Sean Payton said after the game.
"We don't want to be a yo-yo team," safety Kenny Vaccaro, who scored one of the three Saints' defensive touchdowns against Detroit, said. "Since I've been here, we'd win one, lose one, win two, lose three in a row. I think it's big for us to win three games in a row. We have to prepare for the next one."
All are very true statements. They're, rightfully, not going to throw a party over improving to 3-2. They have a long way to go and a lot to clean up after
Sunday's near disaster.
But it also would be foolish to ignore these circumstances. This was the exact type of game they found a way to lose for three straight years. It was like a mental block they couldn't get past.
On Sunday, you could feel the game start to slip away again.
But this time the Saints overcame and walked away with a victory.