Deuce McAllister Is Back and So Are the Glory Days
When I say glory days, I’m not referring to the era of the Dome Patrol or the year 2000 when the Saints won their first playoff game.
The glory days, to me, came two seasons ago when Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, and a collection of no names made it all the way to the NFC Championship.
See, I was too young to fully appreciate the age of the Dome Patrol. Ricky Jackson, Pat Swilling, and Sam Mills are names I’ll always know, but not necessarily remember. In 2000, I was happy the Saints beat the Rams in the divisional round, but it wasn’t really that inspired. Everyone knew New Orleans was operating on borrowed time with Aaron Brooks behind center.
For me, the pinnacle of a career as a Saints fan was in 2006. Brees, just acquired from San Diego via free agency, brought respectability to the position of New Orleans Saints quarterback. McAllister ran tirelessly, giving the Saints a physical running attack to be respected and Bush provided the show-stoppers.
It was a clever configuration and it worked to the tune of two playoff victories. I remember thinking how fun it was to watch that team. There was a feeling that things were finally going right for the Saints. Even when they lost, the game was close and the Saints played well.
The reason I bring this up today is because on Sunday I got that feeling again. As I watched Drew methodically dissect the 49er secondary, and as I witnessed Deuce crash into the pile and gain five yards on almost every play, the old sensation of unbridled joy began to work its way back into my being. I was once again having fun watching a Saints game!
After considering this sensation for a few minutes, I realized it stemmed from one important fact: The Deuce was finally loose and the Saints were loving it.
Of course, during the 20 or so months that McAllister was out, I, along with the rest of the Who Dat nation, missed seeing him dressed in black and gold. What I didn’t realize was how much his team missed him as well.
His return Sunday not only energized the 70,000-plus watching in the Dome; it also invigorated his teammates. Mike Karney was reported to be teary-eyed on the sidelines as he watched his buddy churn out 73 yards on 20 carries. And the defense? Well, you saw it for yourself. They've never played with as much confidence.
So that begs the question: Was Sean Payton saving Deuce for precisely this reason? To pump up the crowd and light a fire under his team? Was Deuce really an ace—up Payton’s sleeve, that is? I’d like to think not. Not after all those short-yardage foul-ups against Denver.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter what happened in the first three games. Deuce is finally back and (fingers crossed) in it for the long run.
So can another 2006-like season happen with this team? A permanent return to the glory days for the younger generation of Saints fans? That, I do not know.
What I do know is the Saints have a much better shot at it now that Deuce is back in business.
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