The same old story: Great season, but heartbreaking end for the Saints

Abe Seldowitz, Staff Reporter

The New Orleans Saints had another winning season to be proud of. The Saints earned a 13-3 record in the regular season as well as the NFC south championship. The team came into the season as the clear-cut favorite to win the south, which it did for the third year in a row. 

Quarterback Drew Brees continued playing at an elite level at the age of 41. Brees, who missed six games with a broken thumb, threw for 2,979 yards in eleven games started which amounts to an elite 271 passing yards per game.

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The quarterback had a 27-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio, among the league’s best, and a whopping 74.3% completion rate, just .1% shy of the single-season record for completion percentage of 74.4% set by none other than Brees himself. The Saints’ star continued to amaze with his pinpoint accuracy, showing no signs of slowing down at age 41.  

Brees’ productive season helped all-pro wide receiver Michael Thomas enjoy a career-best season. Thomas, coming off 125 receptions in 2018, posted a stat line of 149 receptions, 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. Thomas was able to set the single-season receptions record by a wide receiver with 149 catches, passing Colts receiver Marvin Harrison’s 143 receptions in 2002.  

The season ended like it had in years past for the Saints. For the third year in a row, the team’s season ended on the last play of a playoff game. 2019 was supposed to be the season the Saints avenged the no pass interference call on the Rams in the 2019 NFC championship game, but the team lost another heartbreaker. In the wild-card round, the Saints faced the sixth-seeded Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings kept the game close throughout and battled enough to force the game into overtime tied at 20-20. 

The Saints were unfortunate in losing the overtime coin toss, ceding possession to the Vikings. Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen on a 43-yard strike to set up the Vikings at the 4-yard line. Subsequently, Kirk Cousins hit Kyle Rudolph on a 4-yard fade route to win the game.  

In 2017, the Saints lost on the last-second heroics of Stefon Diggs in the “Minneapolis Miracle” in which Case Keenum hit Diggs deep after Saints safety Marcus Williams misplayed the pass. In the 2018 season, the Saints lost on an overtime field goal to the Los Angeles Rams after the referees missed a pass-interference call on the Rams which would have given the Saints a first down deep in Rams’ territory. And in 2019, it was the same script for the Super Bowl hopeful Saints. Uncertainty looms in the Saints’ future. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger, and like all aging players, there is a fall-off looming in Brees’ production in the coming years. The Saints’ Super Bowl window is closing, and the team must be all-in for the 2020 season to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy to the Big Easy.