On Sunday the New Orleans Saints did something that hasn’t been done in quite some time.
New Orleans took on the Carolina Panthers in the wildcard round, their third matchup of this season as they are NFC South division rivals.
The Saints were undefeated against the Panthers this season, two wins is two wins, and as always the playoff matchup between division rivals brought forth the “it’s hard to win against a team three times” narrative.
It’s a tired topic, but it’s one Cowboys fans are well-familiar with. Dallas made the playoffs two times in the Wade Phillips era, and in both instances drew an NFC East team in their first game.
Of course, the 2007 divisional loss to the New York Giants is one that we’ll never get over. Dallas, like New Orleans, was 2-0 against their rival in that season, but it was the Giants that won the more important game (and eventually Super Bowl XLII).
Two years later though, Dallas found themselves in the exact same boat. Dallas had defeated Philadelphia on the road in 2009, and due to the way the season fell, went into the season finale against them with the NFC East on the line.
This was the first season played at AT&T Stadium (then Cowboys Stadium), and the Cowboys defeated the Eagles with a 24-0 shutout in Week 17 to clinch the NFC East. The win set up a rematch one week later, bringing forth the “three times” narrative once again.
Even though Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb infamously strummed an air guitar when entering the stadium, Dallas won the game, Tony Romo’s first playoff win, and completed the hat trick on the season.
That was the last NFL hat trick that had been completed before New Orleans swept Carolina on Sunday. Coincidentally, it was the 2009 season when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. Maybe a hat trick in a season is good luck for them, who knows.