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Saints continue rebound from Bountygate

Payton Getty Images

The NFL wanted to make an example out of the Saints.  The Saints have instead become an example for how an organization can overcome adversity, regardless of its source or legitimacy.

The first road playoff win in Saints franchise history would have been significant regardless of when it happened.  That it happened one year after the league office delivered a potentially crippling blow to the team makes it even more impressive.

Apart from coach Sean Payton being suspended for a year, the NFL stripped the Saints of a pair of second-round draft picks.  And while rules technically were broken, the 22-page, single-spaced ruling from former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturning all player discipline carried a subtle-but-potent rebuke of his successor for addressing a cultural issue in the NFL not by giving everyone a fair chance to adapt to a new reality but by hammering the one team out of 32 that happened to be caught with a hand in the bounty jar.

Publicly, Saints have at all times taken the high road during the first season after Payton’s suspension.  Privately, the franchise surely took extra satisfaction in Saturday night’s win, especially since it was witnessed by Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was sitting with the Eagles.

It wasn’t just the bounty scandal that plagued the organization in 2012.  The defense was among the worst in league history under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, prompting Payton as his first order of business upon returning to dump Spagnulo and the 4-3 defense and switch to the 3-4.

It worked, even with several starters landing on injured reserve throughout the season — defensive end Kenyon Coleman, cornerback Jabari Greer, cornerback Patrick Robinson, linebacker Will Smith, safety Kenny Vaccaro, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Meanwhile, no-name undrafted players have stepped up for the Saints this year, from running back Khiry Robinson (who chipped in 45 rushing yards on eight carries on Saturday) to tight end Josh Hill (who appeared in 14 regular-season games with three starts) to guard Tim Lelito (who appeared in all 16 regular-season games with two starts) to defensive end Glenn Foster (12 games) to defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, who was discovered via a local tryout.

While the Saints, with a late-season win over the Rams in St. Louis, would have wrapped up the No. 2 seed and a divisional-round playoff game at home, the team known for winning at the Superdome and struggling elsewhere can now craft the opposite narrative.  They’ll get a chance in six days to do just that with a return trip to Seattle, where guys like Richard Sherman surely will be sweating a bit beneath their bravado.

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44 Responses to “Saints continue rebound from Bountygate”
  1. 1pwrightt says: Jan 5, 2014 10:18 AM

    Sean Payton brought this team back. They could have been set back for years but he did not allow that. Regardless if you are a Saints fan or not, you have to give the coach a great amount of credit.

  2. novoodoo4409 says: Jan 5, 2014 10:20 AM

    Regardless of what happens next week, the Failclowns will be home again watching us march toward our second Lombardi….who dat, we dat, two dat…..

    Haters go in 3…2…1….

  3. redandgoldhitman52 says: Jan 5, 2014 10:21 AM

    saints are a wanna be tough finness team and drew brees is super soft. overratted finess team will get blown out next week.

  4. jonny42671 says: Jan 5, 2014 10:22 AM

    Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens Saints!! ASTERISK!!!

  5. realnflmaster says: Jan 5, 2014 10:26 AM

    Goodell actually sat with the Eagles? As classless as you can get. Filthadelphia got what they deserved, and that was a well deserved LOSS.

    #flukeentry #nochampionships #santahaters #highschooloffense

  6. mcmccii says: Jan 5, 2014 10:26 AM

    Great article!

  7. bcajun says: Jan 5, 2014 10:52 AM

    Surprised he was sitting next to with the Patriots

  8. gergie1957 says: Jan 5, 2014 10:55 AM

    They won a superbowl while it was in affect, well worth the sanctions.

  9. natepalmer1 says: Jan 5, 2014 11:18 AM

    So Richard Sherman and co. sweating beneath bravado? Do you really believe the Saints can beat Seattle?The Eagles are an average team, and the Saints are an average team, the Seahawks are built for the playoffs, and I don’t think the Legion of Boom has much to “sweat”…Brees is soft, and the Saints are beat up, so do the math…

  10. bert1913 says: Jan 5, 2014 11:35 AM

    This will be a warm up game for the Seahawks

  11. sikoix says: Jan 5, 2014 12:25 PM

    They sure weren’t overcoming sanctions last season. They have their coach back, period.

  12. mrwalterisgod says: Jan 5, 2014 12:41 PM

    The Seahawks fear no one.

  13. mf1849 says: Jan 5, 2014 12:48 PM

    New Orleans looked sharp on both sides of the ball. Congratulations Saints. Anyone predicting a blowout here in Seattle next week is kidding himself. Should be a great game. Go HAWKS!

  14. thundastormz says: Jan 5, 2014 12:58 PM

    Peyton is the key to the Saints. I think that Brees gets a lot of undeserved credit for their success. Brees is very good at 10 yard or less passes but I feel.you could stick in 10-15 other QBs and still put up record numbers…not to mention the EXTREMELY underrated receiving corps.

  15. beyonderhawk says: Jan 5, 2014 1:07 PM

    The legion of boom and Richard Sherman Sweathing from the saints?? Bases on what? I hate when people get a platform to speak facts but use it for stupidity! Obviously the guy that wrote this article is a saints fan and a Seahawks hater! We beat you up bad the first time! You barely escaped last night the lousy one dimensional eagles that also swore they were a good team! NOw you want to get beyond ambitious and start talking crap!!!! The eagle was an alright team! The saints supposedly a good team! The Seahawks are a GREAT team with the best defense in the league! We beat you once it didnt sink in now with Percy harvin and a more motivated and hungry bunch of teradactyl carnivorous feeding defenders will destroy any team that comes to quest field! Save this article and Mark my words Mr fraud reporter with no facts or sense of anything thats real you should have saved those comments for when the saints pull of the miracle!! But then you woke up and realized it was just a dream! Silly rabbit tricks are for kids!! Please take your job more serious and write things that make sense…………

  16. musicman495 says: Jan 5, 2014 1:12 PM

    I love it when Seahawks fans do their Muhammad Ali imitation:
    “We are the Greatest ….. of All Time!!!”
    “We Can’t Possibly Be Beat!!!

  17. ratsfoiledagain says: Jan 5, 2014 1:28 PM

    “They’ll get a chance in six days to do just that with a return trip to Seattle, where guys like Richard Sherman surely will be sweating a bit beneath their bravado.”

    The other week you said the Seahawks had to worry about the Packers, which means you didn’t think the Saints were going to beat Philly. Now, all of the sudden, it’s the Saints they need to worry about?

    It’s the NFL playoffs. Teams are not in the business of ‘sweating a bit’ about other teams. Once they find out who they’re playing, all teams game plan accordingly, and those plans are adjusted throughout the game.

    Should be a good game. Hopefully the Seahawks win this. Seatte’s D will be there. Hopefully Seattle’s O finds its footing again or it will be a long day.

  18. 12brichandfamous says: Jan 5, 2014 1:41 PM

    It’s waaay too convenient to put all of last seasons troubles all on bountygate. saints had the worst defense EVAH!!!! That has a lot more to do with the poor season than player sanctions.

    If I remember correctly,Payton is an offensive guy; not a defense coach. The team underachieved and had personnel troubles that were greatly improved this season.

  19. saints12013 says: Jan 5, 2014 1:44 PM

    I couldn’t agree more musicman, Seattle is the best team ever assembled but wait what have they ever won ?? Seattle Seahawks = Paper Champions.

  20. jacobk621 says: Jan 5, 2014 1:45 PM

    Saints will get annihilated against Seahawks !!

  21. saints12013 says: Jan 5, 2014 1:51 PM

    And yall want to talk about the Saints being soft, we beat some pretty physical teams this season, Arizona, Bears, 49ers, Carolina, and the Falcons are probably the softest team in the league but wasn’t that the team that eliminated the Shehawks last season ???

  22. doubleogator says: Jan 5, 2014 1:52 PM

    A Saints win might not be as big as a shocker as you might think, running game coming around and defense playing well…the football bounces in weird ways sometimes.

  23. hairpie2 says: Jan 5, 2014 2:09 PM

    Godells kids were wearing Giants hats during the SB against the Pats. Thats all you need to know about that.

  24. silentcount says: Jan 5, 2014 2:21 PM

    The whole country can’t wait to see the shocked look on the faces of these overly arrogant and obnoxious Seahawks fans. They’re still in denial that Arizona beat their “great” team at home, and so can the Saints when it actually counts.

  25. southernpatriots says: Jan 5, 2014 2:28 PM

    Amen. The biggest change for the last place defense of the Saints last season and in the top of defenses in the NFL this season, is what everyone in New Orleans knows–the toast of New Orleans, the man who will NEVER have to buy a drink as long as he is in The Big Easy–the Silver-Maned One, Rob Ryan.

  26. oreo51 says: Jan 5, 2014 3:03 PM

    Since their last meeting in Seattle the Hawks have gotten healthier with the return of LT Russell Okung and Percy Harvin. The Saints have lost Kenny Vaccaro and

  27. oreo51 says: Jan 5, 2014 3:04 PM

    probably Kennan Lewis. This is not going to be close. GO HAWKS!

  28. forsbergler says: Jan 5, 2014 3:21 PM

    I ve how the nfl chooses to keep bringing up bountygate like anyone gives a crap that the saints paid players bonuses to injury people. You never hear an article about Spygate or Spygate II do you? Interesting!

  29. ilovefoolsball says: Jan 5, 2014 3:37 PM

    Everyone knows that the bountygate fiasco was a farce (except delusional fans of opposing teams)

    For the saints to even make the playoffs a year after that death sentence is remarkable.
    Everything from this point on for them is just bonus time.

    They will likely lose at Seattle next week but I don’t think it will be as dominant a win for the Seahawks as it was earlier in the year.

  30. rcpecook says: Jan 5, 2014 3:54 PM

    Yeah but the Vikings have not. Even worse their fans are still crying about it.

  31. purplepunisher says: Jan 5, 2014 4:08 PM

    I like how Saints fans act like they have done something special by making the playoff as a wild card team and beating another wild card team!

    Wow, how your expectations have fallen.

  32. realitycheckbaby says: Jan 5, 2014 4:26 PM

    I expect a good game. I’d be surprised if the Hawks won as convincingly as the first game.

    But frankly I don’t think NO defense will be enough.

    Harvin is the X-factor.

  33. goodellsadouche says: Jan 5, 2014 4:33 PM

    Why play the game? According to the Super Bowl Champion PEDhawks have already won.

  34. nawlinsmitty says: Jan 5, 2014 4:43 PM

    remand gold……where is your sorry team?

  35. nawlinsmitty says: Jan 5, 2014 4:44 PM

    redandgold

  36. southernpatriots says: Jan 5, 2014 5:04 PM

    Why can’t you enjoy the win and have fun! I’m not going to wait until we win the Super Bowl to enjoy each win! Do you?

  37. skippynj says: Jan 5, 2014 5:23 PM

    Goodell is a sorry excuse for a commissioner and fortunate that he runs a league that is so popular even he can’t screw it up. What he did to the Saints was hypocrisy of the highest order. Judge, jury and executioner Goodell so over punished the Saints on the thinnest of evidence that, if the other owners weren’t such a bunch greedy jerks steeped in the joys of schadenfreude, they would have fired him for his egregious overreaching.

  38. mrlaloosh says: Jan 5, 2014 5:24 PM

    Wouldn’t it be great if Goodell has to hand the Lombardi to Sean Payton? That would be epic. Probably won’t happen but,……

  39. saints12013 says: Jan 5, 2014 6:38 PM

    Get some football knowledge purple punisher. There are only two Wild Card teams, 49ers and Saints. Philly won their division thus allowing them a home game. There, I said it a little nicer than before. Don’t wanna hurt anybody’s feelings.

  40. jhop86 says: Jan 5, 2014 9:53 PM

    Is it possible sean brought the system back

  41. ravforu says: Jan 6, 2014 5:19 AM

    Arizona did beat Seattle in Seattle 17-10 and New Orleans did beat Arizona 31-7 at New Orleans. What does that mean, I don’t know, but it’s not like the Saints can’t bring it. The more important point Seattle’s not invincible.

  42. saintsfan9 says: Jan 6, 2014 8:49 AM

    Yup I

    You Seahawks “fans” act like your team is unbeatable
    I can remember not too long ago when the Arizona Cardinals come into your house and shoved your too big ego down your throat
    You guys are not unbeatable
    Obviously you can be beaten at home bc the cardinals did it two weeks ago
    And I promise you if Arizona can do it then the saints have a fair chance

  43. jharper41 says: Jan 6, 2014 12:23 PM

    To all the saints Haters let me remind you that statistically these two teams are pretty much the same record except for one thing…The Super Bowl Win by the saints…

    Look at the facts..

    Superbowl Seahawks (0) Saints (1)
    Conference Champs Seahawks (1) Saints (1)
    Division Championships Seahawks (8) Saints (5)
    Playoff Appearances Seahawks (13) Saints (10)

    Now if you want to only talk about this year (Which is all that matters anyway)
    Then Yes we will give the Seahawks the edge but when it comes right down to it the Saints won in the Super Bowl and the Seahawks didn’t. Therefore you Saints haters might not want to scream hate to loud. As a Saints fan I don’t see us coming home with a win this week but only due to the location of the game. You put this game at home in New Orleans…Seahawks would be one and done..Seahwaks are a lot like the Saints in that both teams are great at home

  44. jacqvoncc says: Jan 6, 2014 3:58 PM

    I love this new found confidence that these Saints fans have gained now that they’ve won their first road playoff game EVER to the 29th ranked worst defense in the league! Congrats guys! Brees sure did come out swinging with that whole 3 point win. I also love that you’ve all somehow forgotten the Monday Night game a month ago where you got completed embarrassed on national TV. The fact the Cardinals beat the Hawks at home keeps getting mentioned, but you do realize that was our first home loss in 15 games right?! To a divisional opponent, with a 10x better D than the Saints. No one is saying Seattle is invincible, but the odds are clearly in our favor.

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