Saints Sideline Blog
DATELINE: New Orleans, LA (The Williams & Willie Show)
Sean Payton didn't say a word about Gregg Williams.
He didn't have to.
His sideline demeanor said it all. Well---his offense did plenty of talking too as seven touchdowns and 49 points spoke volumes.
This was personal.
Following his big win in the Gregg Williams Bowl, Payton proclaimed to be "a little excited."
Talk about an understatement--sorry coach you're not fooling anybody.
I've never seen Payton more animated during a regular season game in his ten years on the Saints sideline but let's face it--- this wasn't your normal regular season game.
"He was fired up," safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "I'm sure you all know why"
Yeah Kenny we know.
Payton didn't mention Gregg Williams but all the sideline stares, all the high fives and all the Tiger Woods like fist pumps were all revealing of the revenge factor.
This divorce was a bad one but the two men's football marriage was once a perfect union.
Payton welcomed Williams to New Orleans by taking a 250,000 pay cut. The investment was worth it as Williams delivered a Super Bowl defense which coincided with the three best years of the Payton era but an ugly Bountygate departure exposed their irreconcilable differences and subsequently ruined their relationship, maybe permanently.
It cost the Saints Head Man millions and a rare and bitter year away from football.
Payton clearly wanted Payback even five years after the breakup.
You saw it with the biggest blowout since they beat the Packers by 21 two seasons ago. It was the highest point total in the NFL this season.
You saw it with 555 total yards, tying for the most yards a Williams defense has EVER surrendered--you can imagine Payton is probably thinking---if we only could have mustered one more yard?
You saw it with the Saints pulling out all the stops where with the game in hand and the Saints up by 21---they pull Drew Brees in favor of Willie Snead who airs it out for a 50 yard touchdown pass to a wide open Tim Hightower---the first such pass by any non quarterback in the Payton era.
Funny side note--Drew Brees said they worked on the play all week where Snead was perfect in practice often hitting Mark Ingram instead of Hightower. Payton added it's a wrinkle they've been tinkering with for years but Marques Colston who had a good arm was disinterested while Lance Moore was game yet kept throwing interceptions.
Would he have debuted it against any other team in that juncture of the game? Of course not--this was sweet revenge for Payton who clearly had a score to settle.
The Snead play was worked on all week and so was the proposed soundtrack. The Lion King's "Circle of Life" was played in the Dome after the nail in the coffin touchdown and cryptically tweeted out by Payton later on Twitter with the words "Who Dat".
Translation---what comes around goes around......
"He'll never admit it and I understand that," Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. "(But) yeah, there's more there. There's not tremendous love lost between those sidelines. ... At no point (during the week of preparation) did he ever say or act differently. But I'll be honest for him and say, 'There's no way (it didn't mean more to him)."
Strief is one of the rare Saints who were around for the entire Williams experience in fact only two members of the Williams leftovers remain on defense in Cam Jordan and Roman Harper---Harper in fact was the rare Saint seen shaking Williams' hand afterwards where he told me he will forever be indebted to his old coach for how he impacted his career.
Harper was in the minority on Sunday as his current Head Coach and many of his teammates had other tributes.
"I'd be lying if (I said) it didn't mean a little more for all of us," Drew Brees told me afterwards.
The words Gregg Williams weren't spoken by these Saints, their actions did all the talking.
WHO DAT HITS
30 for 30: Brees' number of the day was 30 as he joined Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks with nine seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes but he wasn't done. It was also the 30th time Brees had at least four touchdown passes in a game. Manning is the only other quarterback in that zip code as he has 35 such games.
SUPER EFFORT: Its been hard for these Saints to get over the .500 hump the past three years but Sunday's win put them over the .500 career mark at the Superdome.. The Saints have played 325 games (regular and postseason) and are now 163-162 lifetime at home sweet dome.
WELCOME BACK: The Saints continued celebrating its 50th anniversary by reuniting its inaugural 1967 team. It was fitting as the first game in Saints history was also against those Los Angeles Rams. Had fun catching up with Billy Kilmer who quarterbacked that Saints team before going on to better years with the Redskins. Kilmer shared with me the record breaking Tom Dempsey kick was a no doubter and that earlier in the year when Brees found Brandin Cooks for a 98 yard touchdown which broke the record of Kilmer to Walt Roberts for the longest reception in team history---why his pass wasn't for a score?
Kilmer says Roberts was tackled at the one yard line which seemed to still frustrate the old Saints signal caller but he assured me the next pass was for a score.
NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT....Sure it was entertaining to see Sean Payton pump his fists and run up the score on Gregg Williams and while I will never know what was said behind the scenes between both parties during their three year working relationship--one fact remains. Payton wouldn't have won a Super Bowl in 2009 without WIlliams and WIlliams surely wouldn't have a ring without Payton. The two men are as competitive as they come and while they may never reconcile-- Williams' value to those Super Saints should always be valued. You talk to many of the Saints who played under Williams and if you saw even his first Training Camp practice it was clear---he brought a new attitude that defense needed and was vital in getting this team to a level they hadn't been to then and frankly haven't attainted since he left.
No matter what happened on Sunday, that shouldn't be lost in Williams' legacy.
UNTIL NEXT BLOG,
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