THE SAINTS: Even though it didn’t end the way everyone would have wanted, it was a great season. It was good to see Sean Payton back on the sideline, and there is no doubt that he has plenty more playoff victories and maybe even a Super Bowl victory his future. This season washed away the debacle of last season. History will probably show that losing to Seattle wasn’t that bad this season. The guys fought hard and made us believe in football in New Orleans again.
SAINTS QB DREW BREES: The future Hall of Famer played as well as advertised. He was brilliant in the second half and gave the team a chance. He was unselfish, stressing the team’s ball-control offense, which should pay dividends in the future. The window for New Orleans winning a championship is still open as long as he is standing. His heart and determination help fuel this team.
THE SAINTS DEFENSE: Much maligned a year ago, this unit was excellent all season long. They deserved a victory on Saturday for the way they played valiantly all game long. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was held to 103 yards on 9-of-18 passing. This unit simply wore down at the end of the game, but their fight was something to be proud of.
THE FIRST HALF: The Saints only have themselves to blame for a first half that led to Seattle getting control of the game. A dumb illegal hit by Rafael Bush led to a field goal for Seattle’s first points. A fumble by Mark Ingram led to a touchdown that made the score 13-0 in the second quarter. Think those points weren’t crucial? In a game in which the team couldn’t make mistakes, it did. It also failed to take advantage of bad plays by Seattle.
SAINTS SPECIAL TEAMS: One week after being the hero, this unit failed to help the team on Saturday. A bad punt by Thomas Morstead was crucial in the first quarter. Place-kicker Shayne Graham missed two field goals, which would have helped. Granted, the conditions were bad, but Seattle played in the same weather and made the plays it had to make to win.
THE INABILITY TO GET THE BALL TO JIMMY GRAHAM: Graham’s last game of the season was forgettable. The Saints should have done a better job of getting him the ball. There were too many times late in the season against upper-echelon teams when Graham disappeared. Not good. You can’t sacrifice not getting the ball to a guy of his caliber. He deserved some touches.