From nightmare to euphoria

Devon Greene, Editor-in-chief

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On Monday night, the New Orleans Saints made their triumphant return to the Superdome after the heist of the century that took place last January.

Saints fans showed out early showing up to the stadium dressed in referee gear in order to taunt the people who stole every Saints’ fan’s soul and stomped on it a billion times and then laughed in our faces while we curled up in the fetal position and wept silently.

The Saints have had a tough time with home openers the last couple seasons putting together uncharacteristically poor performances including last year’s dud against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where your local 24 Hour Fitness owner, Ryan Fitzpatrick, laid 48 points on what was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the NFL. This year, the Saints had a much more difficult challenge in the Houston Texans who only improved over the offseason.

When 6 p.m. rolled around, Saints’ fans around the country sat down eagerly in front of their TV screens, waiting to see one of the most anticipated matchups of week one, except for me. I was stuck wearing a uniform making pizzas. Now, I’ll tell you a secret that we don’t have to tell my employer. I set up my phone in a corner of the room, played the Saints’ game and caught every possible second I could.

Deshaun Watson and the Texans looked fantastic early in this game and they took an early lead with a crowd that was yelling louder than Jamie Lee Curtis on Halloween. The Texans dominated the majority of the first half, but the Saints were looking to gain a little momentum before they headed into the locker room before halftime. Then, the referees struck.

Brees was putting together a potential scoring drive and on a 3rd and 17, Brees completed a 17-yard pass to Michael Thomas with 48 seconds left resulting in a 4th and 1. The Saints were able to get up to the line of scrimmage with 26 seconds left to spike the ball and stop the clock, but the referees wanted to stop the game and take a look at the play. The spot of the ball was advanced forward, resulting in a Saints first down, which is all well and good, but then the referees decided to stab Saints’ fans in the heart and enforce a 10 second run-off because they stopped the game and reviewed a play that absolutely no one from either team wanted to review, leaving Brees only 16 seconds to work with. The Saints were unable to move the ball any further due to the lack of time and were forced to attempt a 56-yard field goal that Wil Lutz was unable to make, leaving us down 14-3 at halftime.

Coming out of halftime down 14-3, I was beginning to believe that New Orleans hadn’t gotten over the blown pass interference call and we were going to be the team that was stuck in a rut all season. Yet, when my hope started weaning, the new addition to our team, Latavius Murray injected life into my veins with a 30-yard touchdown run to inch the Saints a little closer to the lead. After a couple traded touchdowns, the score was 21-17 and the Texans had the ball with Watson looking nearly untouchable, but Marcus Williams, who was the man who caused the entire state of Louisiana to sob uncontrollably two years ago, intercepted Watson and gave Brees the ball with all the momentum in the world. Brees took the ball and ran with it, converting on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tre-Quan Smith, giving the Saints their first lead of the game.

The Saints kept a 24-21 lead for most of the fourth quarter and extended the lead to 27-21 on a 47-yard field goal from Lutz leaving Watson only 50 seconds to conduct a 75-yard drive and take the lead back.

Then Watson did it. One 38-yard pass to Hopkins and a 37-yard pass to Kenny Stills and the Texans found themselves in the endzone. But there was still the extra point to kick. As Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked the extra point, the ball sailed off to the right, missing and leaving the game tied, but then Houston was granted a roughing the kicker call, allowing them to retry the field goal which they then made, putting them up by one with 37 second left in the game.

At this point, I was hiding in the back of an undisclosed location getting ready to quit my job and leave all the responsibilities of my life behind and go find a cave and never leave again. I couldn’t take another loss like the Minnesota Miracle or the Referee Robbery. My nightmare was becoming reality, until it didn’t.

Brees got the ball and completed three straight passes to put us in field goal range. With the recent barrage of missed field goals around the league and Lutz’s miss in the first half, I put the entirety of Hancock County under flash flood warning with all the sweat that was dripping from my body. Lutz lined up with two seconds left on the clock and absolutely nailed a career long 59-yard field goal to capture the Saints’ 30-28 victory over the Texans.

It was an amazing week one victory that might go down as the best game of the season, but New Orleans can’t celebrate too long because the Boogeyman is hiding around the corner. The Saints have the highly anticipated rematch with the Los Angeles Rams next week and the entire sports world will be watching to see how they respond.

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