The New Orleans Saints bullied the Indianapolis Colts for three hours with no mercy. When the beatdown was complete, the scoreboard read Saints 62, Colts 7.
One more time: Saints 62, Colts 7.
That final score was created with four second-half touchdowns for the Saints, including two in the fourth quarter. Despite the thrashing of the hapless Colts, there is no media outrage on Monday morning condemning the Saints for running up the score. Nobody is accusing Sean Payton of being an egomaniacal nut who has no class whatsoever.
It’s certainly a lot different from those dark days back in 2007, when evil Bill Belichick shuffled his pawns to destroy and embarrass opponents seemingly every week. Back when John Clayton wrote that Belichick “kicked a Hall of Fame coach while he was down, running up the score on Joe Gibbs‘ Redskins” and that the Patriots’ scoring too many points was a situation that “has turned ugly.”
In that same story, Clayton aggressively charted how many plays Belichick’s starters were in for and what plays they ran (A pass?! The horror!). He also not-so-subtly threw in a note about the curious loss of communication on team headsets.
Back then, people couldn’t understand how going for it on fourth down rather than kicking a field goal was actually the exact opposite of running up the score, as it gave the other team a chance to make a stop, rather than just piling on another three points. Because it was evil Bill, though, the behavior was unacceptable.
The concept of “running up the score” is one that’s dogged the Patriots since that ’07 season. In 2009, when they won 59-0 over the Titans, who authored one of the most embarrassing performances in NFL history, the talk shows questioned the team’s class. When the Jets lost 45-3 in New England last year, Braylon Edwards cried a little bit about it.
The funny part is that in that ’07 season, the Patriots never scored 62 points. Their largest margin of victory was 46 points, a solid nine fewer points than the Saints’ on Sunday.
Of course, to say the Saints were rubbing it in during the fourth quarter would be disingenuous at best and outright deceitful at worst. The last score came on an interception return — did you want Leigh Torrence to pull a Brandon Marshall and just step out of bounds? The other score came with Chase Daniel under center and included six rushes. The Colts just didn’t care to stop any of them. The head coach was also up in the press box nursing his surgically repaired leg, too, so attacking him would just seem mean.
While those are valid points, the same could be said for many of the Patriots’ instances of “running up the score.” That never stopped anyone from complaining about it, though.
The reason is no mystery. Many in the media didn’t like Belichick. They didn’t like his personality, figured he was a no-good, overconfident, unfriendly jerk. The video “scandal” was blown way out of proportion after Week 1 and allowed all the folks who had an ax to grind to just go ahead and grind away. Just watch Skip Bayless nearly blow a gasket in this video when Sean Salisbury suggested the video story was “overrated.”
Payton, on the other hand, is among the most likable coaches in the sport. Writers and fans alike love him dearly, so much so that the report linking Payton and his staff to Vicodin use was almost completely glossed over. Imagine if it were Belichick at the heart of the story. It’d be madness. Instead, it doesn’t even show up on Payton’s Wikipedia page. Meanwhile, “Spygate” has its own page.
This mini-rant isn’t to point out that the Saints should be bashed in the media for running up the score. Quite the opposite, really. Criticizing a team for being good, in a league full of professionals, is ridiculous.
The point is just to say that all that righteous indignation from the media back in ’07 was without question one of the most ridiculous, biased and preposterous “storylines” that we may ever witness.