Copper part of ‘Amazing’ season for Saints

Published 3:56 am Saturday, January 20, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
The feel-good story of the year just keeps getting better and better, and Terrance Copper is smack dab in the middle of it.
Copper, a former standout at Washington High School and East Carolina University, will play for the NFC Championship on Sunday when his New Orleans Saints (11-6) play the Bears (14-3) in Chicago. It will be the Saints’ first appearance in an NFC title game since the franchise’s inception in 1967.
The game will kick off at 3 p.m.
It’s been a startling turnaround for the Saints, who went just 3-13 last year. New Orleans, and much of America, has embraced the Saints, rallying around a team that has lifted a city’s spirits after Hurricane Katrina.
In the first contest at the Superdome since Katrina devastated the area, the Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons 23-3 in a Monday Night Football game. After the game, Copper said he felt like something “amazing” was going to happen with the Saints.
The amazing ride isn’t over as the Saints play the Bears, a 27-24 overtime winner against Seattle last week, for the NFC Championship.
New Orleans earned the right to play for the championship thanks to a 27-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Copper’s first playoff game.
Copper, who has 24 receptions for 386 yards and three touchdowns this season, said each play in a playoff game seems magnified.
Copper, who started at wide receiver in place of the injured Joe Horn, had one catch for three yards in the win over the Eagles.
The third-year NFL player, who is in his first year with the Saints, also came up with a key fumble recovery. With the Saints driving in the third quarter with just under five minutes to play, rookie running back Reggie Bush lost the ball. Copper spotted the ball and dove on it in front of Eagle defenders.
It gave New Orleans a first down. The Saints went on to score on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Deuce McAllister, giving the Saints a 27-21 lead.
Copper’s eyes lit up just as big earlier in the game when McAllister scored on a 5-yard run, pulling the Saints within 21-20. Copper jumped in the air to celebrate, then ran off the field while nearly giving a high-five to the official signaling the touchdown.
Copper is hoping for more excitement when the Saints play the Bears for the NFC Championship.
If Horn returns from injury, that will free up Copper to play on some special teams to possibly deal with Hester. However, if Horn can’t play, Copper will see all his action at receiver.
If the Saints win Sunday, Copper and his teammates will earn NFC Championship rings.
It will also earn them the right to play the winner between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4 in Miami.
Now that would be amazing.