Brian Allee-Walsh

Saints' first-quarter grade: A big, fat, beautiful 'W' ... finally!

New Orleans Saints defensive back B.W. Webb, right, celebrates his interception with teammates during the second half against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in San Diego.
New Orleans Saints defensive back B.W. Webb, right, celebrates his interception with teammates during the second half against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in San Diego. AP

Our 26-letter English alphabet has one.

Young George Bush, our country's 43rd president, has one.

U-Dub, the Pac 12 university, has one.

The late media icon Buddy D. often struggled with its pronunciation.

And now the New Orleans Saints finally have one.

"W.''

After going 273 excruciatingly lonnnnnng days between victories, the Black and Gold picked up a "W'' on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in southern California, beating the benevolent San Diego Chargers 35-34 at Qualcomm Stadium.

It’s been a while

Who Dat Nation might have forgotten what a "W'' felt like after its team finished 0-4 in the preseason and lost three straight games to open the regular season.

The Saints last experienced a winning high on Jan. 3 when Kai Forbath kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 at the Georgia Dome in the 2015 regular-season finale.

After going nine months between Ws, the ol' "L'' had taken root and become the house guest that would never leave.

That was then.

This is a new day.

Thanks to a thieving defense and an opportunistic offense led by former Charger Drew Brees, the Saints overcame a 13-point deficit in the final five minutes to get off the schneid and go into the bye week on a positive note.

It doesn't seem like much. But ONE-AND-THREE sounds a heck of a lot better than OH-AND-FOUR.

Next up: Carolina

And now the Saints get a chance to catch their collective breath before playing host to the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers who may or may not have reigning league-MVP quarterback Cam Newton under center Oct. 16 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Newton remains in the league's concussion protocol after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 48-33 beat down against the reinvigorated Atlanta Falcons (3-1) in the Georgia Dome.

Newton is questionable for Monday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., suggesting the Panthers (1-3) will get backup quarterback Derek Anderson ready just in case.

Newton or Anderson? Who'd you rather see? Stay tuned.

As for the Saints, they have their own injury concerns. At some point after the break, coach Sean Payton hopes to regain the services of linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and James Laurinaitis, defensive end Paul Kruger, rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, No. 1 cornerback Delvin Breaux and left tackle Terron Armstead, among others.

Payton will need all hands on deck against Carolina, at Kansas City, Seattle, at San Francisco, Denver and at Carolina in successive weeks going into Thanksgiving.

Even with a healthy roster the challenge will be daunting.

That said, getting that elusive first W is a Big Foot-sized step in the right direction.

Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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