Lewis: Monday mornings much more manageable after thrilling win _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Quarterback Drew Brees came up big in Sunday's 26-20 overtime win over the Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, finally giving Saints fans something to cheer about this season.

The sky’s a little bluer. The grass is a little greener.

The coffee smells better.

Even having going to work on Monday morning isn’t so bad.

Yes, when the Saints win for the first time this season, especially on Sunday night in dramatic fashion in overtime against the team not named Dirty Birds you most want to beat, the world’s just a nicer place.

“Oh, everybody’s happy today,” Molly Rogers, a greeter at a Slidell Walmart said Monday. “The game’s all they’re talking about.

“When they lose, everybody’s mad and upset, saying they must have been out on the town the night before and stuff like that. This is a lot better.”

And at Geaux for the Gold in Slidell, which stocks nothing but Saints and LSU merchandise, business was brisk.

“Usually the day after they lose, the only people who come in are those thinking we’ve got stuff on sale or something,” store clerk Lindsay Mendez said. “Today, we had about 10 people here when we opened.

“Most of them wanted Drew (Brees) shirts. You’d think everybody who wants one would have one, but you’d be surprised.”

Imagine then, what it must have like to come into the team’s practice facility in the afterglow of a 26-20 victory against the Dallas Cowboys instead of the mood during the three previous mornings after.

“Obviously we play this game to win,” veteran tight end Benjamin Watson said. “All of us are competitors, and we want to go out and see the hard work we put in practice come to fruition in wins.

“That’s why it’s so hard when you lose, and every team has to lose at some point. We were at a point where we needed to see our work validated.”

To be sure, the Saints are still three games behind undefeated Atlanta and Carolina in the NFC South. That’s a big deficit to overcome, even with only a quarter of the season played.

History says the Saints can’t do it.

But they’re only a game out of being tied for a wild-card berth. So there’s at least a flicker of a chance.

Twice before, in 1990 and 2000, the Saints have started 1-3 and wound up in the playoffs.

And with an Eagles team in seeming disarray coming up Sunday in Philly, things seem favorable for the Black & Gold to go into their next primetime event — Oct. 15 against the Falcons — on a two-game winning streak.

Let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves though.

The Cowboys team that the Saints defeated Sunday was a far cry from the one that dominated New Orleans 38-17 in Game 4 last year and was being mentioned in the preseason Super Bowl contender conversation,

But that was before injuries, most notably to Dez Bryant and Tony Romo, along with suspensions put the ’Boys into a spin after their 2-0 start.

The Saints, playing in desperation mode, may not be in a more advantageous position this season.

As Cowboys fan Victoria Laurent of Slidell, who bravely wore a Dallas T-shirt to work at Lowe’s on Monday said, “That was just a bunch of second-stringers they had on the field last night, and we still took them to overtime.

“If we’d won the coin flip, who knows what would have happened?”

She’s got a point.

The 80-yard Drew Brees-to-C.J. Spiller touchdown pass that ended it was made possible in large part because rookie backup linebacker Damien Wilson, in the game because starter Stan Lee was out with a concussion, got caught in presnap confusion, freeing Spiller for the catch.

After that, nobody was going to catch the former track star.

“As soon as I saw C.J. catch the ball, I knew it was game over,” Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks said.

Yes, it is over.

And while winning an NFL game is always to be prized because the margin between victory and defeat is narrow by design, this remains a flawed team — perhaps fatally when it comes to having legitimate playoff hopes.

The running game continues to be inconsistent.

The secondary draws too many penalties and has serious coverage issues.

Kicker Zach Hocker has the yips, but with punter Thomas Morstead injured, Hocker, his backup who admirably delivered a 43-yarder to the Cowboys 9 on Sunday, will likely get another week to hang on to his job.

Of course, that’s a much shorter list than a week ago when Brees missed the Carolina game with a bruised rotator cuff and veterans Keenan Lewis, Jairus Byrd and Dannell Ellerbe all had yet to play because of injuries.

And No. 9 proved again Sunday that as long as you have someone of his caliber on your side, even if he’s not 100 percent, you’ve got a shot, as one prominent newcomer to the basketball side of things at 5800 Airline Drive observed.

“I tell you man, Drew’s a stud,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He was one of my favorite guys before I ever got here.

“He just gets it. Greatest teammate ever.”

Locals obviously agree.

“When we won, I was jumping up and down and saying, ‘Lord have mercy. Thank you.’” Rogers said, “And I’m not really that much of a Saints fan.”

Ain’t Mondays fun?

At least this one was.