Looking Back on the 2012 New Orleans Saints, Part 1: Highlights

There’s nothing surprising about the season being over at this point.  The season was, for all intents and purposes, over sometime in the third quarter of the Saints’ win over the Cowboys when a Vikings victory mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention.  But now the season is officially over, and it’s time to look back over some of the high and low points of what was an up and (mostly) down, turmoil-filled year for the New Orleans Saints.  Let’s start with the happy side of it all.


Malcolm Jenkins’ Rundown of Vincent Jackson – The Saints season had been hanging on the brink of disaster since the beginning of the year.  Coming off their first win, but still sitting at 1-4, the week 6 game at Tampa Bay was a must-win to hang on to any chance of salvaging the season.  When Vincent Jackson reeled in a tipped ball and took off downfield with no one near him, it seemed a formality that he would go in for a 98-yard touchdown.  But Malcolm Jenkins (not known for being especially fast himself) never gave up, and managed to run him down at the 1-yard line.  The Saints much-maligned defense followed it up with a four-play goal line stand that yielded no points and gave a new energy to the season.  The Saints would go on to win by seven on another red-zone stop at the end, whereas a touchdown on Jackson’s catch would’ve allowed Tampa to kick a short field goal for the win.

For all the disappointment of the 2012 season, Jenkins’ rundown on Jackson stands out as the play of the year and, had the Saints been able to complete the comeback and sneak into the playoffs, would be looked back on as the moment it all turned around.

16-0?  I Don’t Think So! – The Falcons backing into a 1-seed in the playoffs was nauseating enough, the only thing that could’ve made it worse would’ve been if they had lucked into an undefeated season.  And that was indeed on their mind, as Roddy White did an interview prior to the 11/11 showdown in New Orleans where he suggested that he thought they (the Falcons whose 8-0 start included a 2-point win over Carolina and a 3-point win over Oakland) were capable of a 16-0 year.  HA!

The Falcons came in with way too much confidence, and the Saints were able to bounce back from an early 10-0 deficit, shutting down Atlanta’s offense for most of the second half on the way to a 31-27 New Orleans victory, and putting the first blemish on their rival’s season.

Brees Breaks the Unbreakable Record – Whenever a list of the “NFL’s Most Unbreakable Records” was compiled, one that would almost always appear was Johnny Unitas’ streak of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.  To break the record, a quarterback would basically have to throw a TD in every game for three straight years.  Impossible, right?  In the next 50 years following Unitas’ accomplishment, only two quarterbacks had even topped 30!  Well, in week 5 against his former team, the Chargers, Drew Brees hit Devery Henderson to tally a TD pass for the 48th consecutive game.  Doing it in the first win of the season, and with the suspended Sean Payton in attendance made for a special moment for the man who has cemented himself as the greatest Saint in the franchise’s history.

The only downside to this one is that the record streak came to an end, at 54 games total, against the Falcons later in the season.  Furthermore, Tom Brady is hot on Brees’ heels, with his own streak currently standing at 48 and counting.  The Saints get the Patriots at some point next year, so perhaps they’ll get a chance early in the season (oh who am I kidding, they’ll make sure to schedule NO vs. NE on the week when Brady would hypothetically break Brees’ record) to protect his place in history.

But it wasn’t all highs (obviously), there were plenty of low points as well.  Next time, we’ll take a look at some of the lowlights of the season, and try to figure out just where it all went wrong.

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