Twelve days ago, the Saints had the Vikings beaten, for a berth in the NFC title game. Six years earlier, the Saints were similarly close to a divisional-round win in San Francisco. The two losses will haunt G.M. Mickey Loomis, indefinitely.
“Look, for the rest of my life, I’m going to feel like, ‘We were this close to being in three Super Bowls,'” Loomis said. “And hopefully it’s more than that. . . . Listen, I felt the same way after ’11 when we got beat in San Francisco. The path to getting to the Super Bowl was right there in front of us. Now, look, we would’ve had to complete it — I’m not saying we would have, no different from this one. But there was a path.”
Having the path prematurely disrupted invites speculation as to what would have happen if the path had continued. Could the Saints have beaten the Eagles? Could they have beaten the Patriots? As it stands, they’ll never know.
“What’s hard about the end of the season, any season, is that it’s so hard to get to a point where, man, you’ve got a real chance to get to the Super Bowl,” Loomis said earlier this week, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “And when something happens, you feel like it got taken away from you. And I’m not saying ‘wrongly’ or anything like that. Just that, hey, it got jerked out from under us. And it’s just like, ah, you got thrown back into this deep hole and there’s no light.”
More accurately, the Saints (along with 29 other teams, for now) have been thrown back into the valley of 0-0, and they won’t get a chance to commence the process of digging out until September, when the next regular season begins.