NEW ORLEANS — On Election Eve, Saints fans filled the Mercedes-Benz Superdome hoping for a change.
And they got it.
Certainly not for four more years. Maybe even not for eight more weeks.
But for one night, at least, the Black & Gold State could unite as one.
The Saints had won 28-13 against a Philadelphia Eagles team supposedly every bit as desperate for a victory as they were.
Even Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, ESPN’s halftime guests, would have to agree how big it was.
And how it didn’t take Drew Brees putting up tote-board numbers to for it to happen.
Instead, the league’s worst rushing team utilized the fresh legs of Chris Ivory, unused and feeling unloved in the first seven games, plus the apparent motivation of Mark Ingram, who decided that No. 4 on the depth chart was no place for a Heisman Trophy-winning first-round draft pick, as well as the always reliable Chris Ivory, to run for 140 yards, 67 more than the norm (72.6) in the first seven games.
And the league’s worst defense got a game-changing 99-yard interception return by Patrick Robinson and, while still yielding 447 yards, was tough to the end in the red zone and played with a new-found intensity all over the field.
Maybe it was even enough to persuade Sean Payton to forget about whatever maneuvering he’s got going on with his contract.
An aside here: Tom Benson has been above and beyond loyal to Payton.
There’s no mention of his bounty-related misdeeds in any of the team’s publications, including the flip cards.
It would follow then, that Mr. B does not abide any perceived betrayal. Two words: Randy Mueller. Two more: Arnie Fielkow.
But that’s a story for another time.
Monday’s was about a team whose season was about to go over the brink doing exactly what interim coach Joe Vitt saying what he had to get them to do — playing better physically, mentally and emotionally.
Physically — We saw that on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Mentally — No doubt there will be groans during film study of how talented Eagles running back LeSean McCoy could so easily turn the corner and Saints rookie Travaris Cadet, subbing for Darren Sproles (Get well, quick, Sproley) had a potentially disastrous fumble on a kickoff return the Saints were able to limit to a field goal.
But there were few outright busts.
Emotionally — After that field goal which made it a suddenly-precarious 21-13, Brees took the team on a 10-play, 70-yard drive capped by Jimmy Graham’s nifty sidestepping of Mychal Kendricks for a 6-yard touchdown catch.
Along the way, Brees had Cullen Jenkins nipping at his heels, threatening a third-and-seven sack.
But Brees shook off Jenkins like he was a chahuahua and went to Lance Moore for a 23-yard gain.
It’s sure nice to have No. 9 in the clutch.
But before everyone starts getting giddy, there are two things to remember.
One — at 3-5, the Saints are No. 15 among 16 teams in the NFC. That’s a long climb to the playoffs.
Two — Undefeated Atlanta is coming to town Sunday.
But most Saints fans weren’t worried about that Monday.
Heck, they probably don’t care that much who wins today.