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Barry Hirstius

Saints Hope History Repeats Itself Today Just Like Their Last Time in Buffalo

As the New Orleans Saints prepare to play the Buffalo Bills in just a few short hours from now at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York (just outside of Buffalo), they probably can't be blamed all that much for reminiscing about the very last time that they were there.

That's because their last trip to the shore of Lake Erie in Western New York was on September 27th, 2009; which of course was during Week #3 of the 2009 NFL season; during what eventually would go on to become their 1st-ever Super Bowl-winning season when they beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.

Given the Saints' current circumstances — a (6-2) record thanks to a 6-game winning streak, 1st place currently in the NFC South Division standings, and the #2 seed in the NFC Playoffs if the season were to end today — it's probably a safe bet that the team is hoping that today's game will end up in a very similar fashion as that game did: a convincing 27-7 win on the road that propelled them to a great season and a World Championship.

Back on that day however, the circumstances coming into that game were a bit different than today's contest.

Among the key notables from that day over 8 years ago, per Bleacher Report's Paul Augustin, Jr:

    • The Saints at Buffalo on that day were playing in their second of back-to-back games on the road, both more than 1,200 miles from home.

    • Drew Brees (16 for 29, 172 yards, zero touchdowns, sacked twice, lost a fumble) was merely "average".

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

    • Lynell Hamilton, the Saints' 4th-string running back, scored the game's first touchdown.

    • Buffalo scored a touchdown on a fake field goal.

    • The Saints punted on four straight possessions (not including the one play to end the first half).

    • Despite all of this, the Saints still won by 20 points.

    • The Saints outscored the Bills 17-0 in the fourth quarter and held Buffalo to 243 total yards, more than 100 below their average.

    • The defense held Bills running back Fred Jackson, who came in averaging 164 total yards from scrimmage, to 97 yards and 3.9 yards per carry.

    • Saints defensive end Charles Grant, (yes, Charles Grant) led a fierce pass rush that recorded four sacks, 14 quarterback hits, and helped hold quarterback Trent Edwards to a passer rating of 56.4.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

  • The Saints defense had a total of eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

  • Each of the Saints' three running backs averaged at least 4.8 yards per carry. Pierre Thomas gained all of his 126 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

  • New Orleans ran the ball 38 times for 222 yards and three touchdowns while passing 29 times for just 172 yards (not including sacks) and no touchdowns  — and did all of this while playing much of the second half with third-string left tackle Zach Strief (now 11th year veteran Zach Strief), who was substituting for injured starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

On that day, the Saints would make an immediate impact in the 1st quarter with 4th string running back Lynell Hamilton — playing because of an injury that forced Mike Bell out of action — who scored to open the game with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The Bills would answer in the 2nd quarter when on a fake field goal attempt, punter Brian Moorman would complete a 25-yard touchdown pass to defensive end Ryan Denney. It would end up being the lone score of the contest for the Bills.

The Saints then responded and eventually would close out the 1st half with kicker John Carney's 27-yard field goal.

After a scoreless 3rd quarter, the Saints would then put "the final nail in the coffin".

They took complete control of the contest in the 4th quarter, boosted by running back Pierre Thomas' 34-yard touchdown run, Carney's 35-yard field goal, and another Thomas' 19-yard touchdown run that made the eventual final score 27-7 in favor of New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

With the win, the Saints on that day improved to 3–0; and then famously went on what eventually became a 13-winning streak to open their 2009 season at 13-0 before they finally lost in Week #15 at home to the Dallas Cowboys.

If you're a Saints fan, then you already know how the rest of the story goes from there.

The Saints lost their last 2 regular season games following the Dallas loss, finished 13-3, and 'limped' into the Playoffs on a 3-game losing streak; but then managed to regroup during their Playoff opening-round bye week and came into the Playoffs refocused and reinvigorated.

They then blew out the Cardinals in the Divisional Round, and the following week beat the Vikings at the Superdome in what will probably always remain as one of the greatest Conference Championship games ever played in NFL history.

And then of course 2 weeks after that, a slight "underdog" NFC Champion New Orleans Saints squad led by eventual Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees would go on to beat the Colts and League MVP QB Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV at Miami.

Feb 7, 2010 ; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton shares a ride with quarterback Drew Brees (9) (holding the Lombardi Trophy) as they leave the field after defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Now let's be clear: no one is suggesting that a win today over the Bills is something that will propel the Saints forward on a run towards a berth in the NFC Playoffs at the end of this season, or even — lo and behold — Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on February 4th, 2018; just a little less than 3 months away from now.

But by just simply looking back at the last time that they were in Buffalo, New York and seeing how that season ended up turning out for New Orleans; then you'd have to believe that if nothing else a win over the Bills today in a game that everyone seems to be not giving the Saints much of a chance to win despite how well they've played recently, could turn out to be some "good karma".

And surely if you actually do believe in such things as good karma, then you also have to think that a win today for a team that's looked as good as these 2017 Saints have so far through their first 8 games — but yet still has their doubters who aren't convinced that they're legitimate contenders — would be a very good sign, indeed.

It's the exact reason why the Saints hope that history ends up repeating itself later on today, while on another wonderful visit to the lovely confines of Orchard Park............


Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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