500 (some-odd) Words on Perfection...and the lack thereof

When the NFL season started, I would have been happy with a winning season. Another trip to the playoffs, maybe a solid playoff win against an NFC rival like Atlanta or Dallas. Seven weeks ago, I would have been happy with another trip to the NFC Championship game and a solid effort against Minnesota or Philly.

Saturday, anything less than a perfect season and a Superbowl victory was going to be a disappointment. What happened in the interim to make such a difference in our expectations as fans?

7 wins. Countless national articles about the record-breaking pace the Saints offense was on. The domination of the "Team of the Decade, here at home. Lots of things happened, but mostly, we just all saw the possibilities.

It's in a once in a generation opportunity that lay before this team. The kind of accomplishment that has only been done once, and never in the modern era of 16 regular season games. These Saints, if they can complete the regular season undefeated and then march through the playoffs and finish the job that the New England Patriots were unable to two seasons ago would have gone down in history as the greatest team of all time. The Greatest of all time. What's that worth?

Michale Irvin, wide receiver for the Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys dynasty says it's worth a couple of his Super Bowl rings and his hall of fame bust. He says perfection is the one thing he didn't accomplish, and it would supercede his other achievements. I think if anyone is in a position to know what it would be worth, Michael is the one.

Of course, Saturday night came and went, spoiling our shot at perfection. But as we sit in a post-perfect-world, we can still marvel at the opportunity that we had, and how close we came.

I'm not glad we lost. I'm not relieved that the weight of the streak is over. I'm not in the camp that it's "better to lose one now", although, obviously it is. I'm glad that the loss came in week 15 instead of in the divisional round of the playoffs, but I'm still disappointed. I wanted perfection. It was so close, and it would have been sweet for this Saints fan.

Besides, if there was ever a city and a people that deserved a shot at history, isn't it this city and these people? After suffering through the horrors of Katrina and being the butt of jokes (football and otherwise) for generations, wouldn't it have been poetic that we could stand as the example of the pinnacle of football greatness?

But that's all past. Now we have to look forward to a playoff berth, a bye week, home field advantage (possibly for the entire playoffs) and New Orleans best shot at a Super Bowl Championship in it's history. Nothing to sneeze at.

Other than the fact that this loss came to the Cowboys (seriously, I'd have preferred a loss in our division. At least I respect the Panthers, Bucs and Falcons as franchises), it shouldn't sting to badly, or hold us down too long. We've got to bounce back, clinch the #1 seed with a win against Tampa, and get our minds right for the playoffs. The Saints are coming, and if Dallas is lucky enough to hold on to a playoff spot, we'll crush them in round 2.