By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
METAIRIE, LA. — The New Orleans Saints know history does not have to repeat.
It didn’t last weekend in Philadelphia, and the Saints don’t believe it has to Saturday when they visit Seattle in the NFC playoffs.
The Saints — who came into the NFL in 1967 — headed to Philadelphia having never won a road playoff game. That long streak ended Saturday with 26-24 win, clinched by Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal on the final play.
“I’m not interested in the franchise’s history,” coach Sean Payton said in a Sunday conference call. “I said it to our players that if that were the case, we would be carrying a lot of baggage with us. Our job is to win, and our job is to be consistent and be successful whether we play at home or on the road. We played well enough.”
Saints players were on board with their coach, noting that some of those previous road playoff losses date to the 1980s and have nothing to do with the current team.
Still, this team has had its troubles on the road. The Saints were 3-5 away from the Superdome during this regular season and took a three-game road losing streak into Philadelphia.
“To win on the road in this league is tough as we saw throughout the regular season,” tight end Benjamin Watson said. “To win a road game in a hostile environment — the cold, in Philadelphia, in the playoffs — it brings great confidence for our team. We know moving forward that it is all road games from here.”
Next stop along their postseason path is CenturyLink Field, a tough spot for many NFL teams, New Orleans certainly included.
That’s where the Saints’ Super Bowl title defense came to an end on Jan. 10, 2011, with Marshawn Lynch’s full-beast-mode, 67-yard touchdown run highlighting the Seahawks’ 41-36 win.
It’s also where the Seahawks embarrassed the Saints 34-7, just over a month ago on Monday Night Football.
Seattle jumped ahead 17-0 in the first quarter, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was limited to 147 passing yards, and the entire Saints offense managed just 188 yards — the fewest in the Payton-Brees era.
And yet, the Saints don’t believe that’s the kind of history that needs to repeat either.
“There are parts of it that will help us and parts of it that we want to forget,” Watson said. “… It can also give us motivation to not let it happen again. We can go back and look at the film and see why things happened. I think it is important when you play a team twice to go back and look at the film to see what you did well and things that you didn’t do so well and kind of take in that to formulate what you need for a game plan when you can be successful the next time.”
The Saints also figure there could be practical benefit in having so recently experienced CenturyLink Field.
“It was loud out there; we expected that coming in,” nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley said. “When you face an opponent previously in the season, you kind of have a better idea of what you’re going against and it helps you prepare for it a little bit better.”
There is one piece of history the Saints wouldn’t mind repeating. So far this season, New Orleans has played three teams twice. None have swept the Saints. New Orleans took both meetings against Atlanta and Tampa Bay, while splitting with Carolina, each team winning at home.
The Saints were off Monday. They will practice at their suburban facility today, Wednesday and Thursday before flying out Friday. … An unusual cold front moved through the New Orleans area Monday, with temperatures falling to 25 degrees. Forecasts call for warming into the 40s and 50s by midweek.