New Orleans Saints Are Stuck in Purgatory

Brian Giuffra
Drew Brees upset.
Drew Brees upset. / Chris Graythen/Getty Images

If it's not the defense, it's the refs. If it's not the refs, it's the defense. When oh when will things finally go the New Orleans Saints' way?

If it feels like New Orleans has been stuck in a ceaseless spin cycle of torment for the last three years, that's because it has been. The Saints have lost in seemingly every conceivable way since 2017 and today, in a game with massive NFC playoff implications, they suffered another heartbreaker against the 49ers.

This time it was the defense disappointing fans, giving up a 63-yard drive with 53 seconds remaining that led to an easy game-winning field goal for the 49ers. It was the eighth time in 12 drives the 49ers scored points, ruining an earlier potential game-winning touchdown pass from Drew Brees. Final score, 48-46.

Of course, last year it was the refs who screwed the Saints in the playoffs, failing to call a blatant pass interference in the final minutes of the NFC Championship. That missed call ultimately cost the Saints a Super Bowl berth.

The year before that, it was the defense giving up a 61-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left in the NFC Divisional round. The Minneapolis Miracle was born, and the Saints suffered another soul crusher.

When will it just end?

The Saints, of course, still have a chance to change the sad-sack narrative they've developed. They'll have to wait for the playoffs to turn that around. Sunday's loss won't keep them out of the Super Bowl, but now they'll likely have to get there by going on the road instead of coasting through the playoffs at home.

More than home-field advantage, the Saints may need luck to favor them one of these days if they're ever going to get over the hump. Maybe it's a clutch performance from their defense, or a questionable call from the refs that goes their way. Or maybe, just maybe, they put it all together when it matters most and remind their fans that some books do have happy endings.