The Difference A Couple Plays Can Make

The New Orleans Saints’ victory in the Super Bowl on Sunday was considered an upset by some. I suppose technically it was just by looking at Vegas odds, even though we’re talking about two teams that were the No. 1 seeds in their conferences.

Maybe the Saints did steal victory from the jaws of defeat. But as is often the case in the National Football League, their win over the Indianapolis Colts can be traced back to two plays.

The first was the onside kick to open the second half. I thought it was a great call, which I know is like saying a hit-and-run was a bad call when the guy lines into an unassisted double play. But I liked the timing of it. And with Peyton Manning going against you, whether the field is 40 yards or 90 yards, he’s always got a good chance of scoring against you. So why not take a shot?

I didn’t like Sean Payton‘s decision to go for it on fourth down in the second quarter down 10-3, and I said so before it failed when he called a run play. But the onside kick? That I liked. The Saints recovered the ball after it bounced off the hands of Indianapolis Colts special teamer – and former Minnesota Vikings receiver – Hank Baskett.

Then, there was the Tracy Porter interception of Manning with under four minutes left. That return for a touchdown put the Saints up by two touchdowns, which is a pretty insurmountable deficit for even a guy like Manning to face. That was an awfully atypical play for Manning. Let’s face it: It was not a good throw at all, though you have to give credit to Porter for reading that route and stepping in front of it. It’s very easy to drop into prevent defense at that point, but he took a chance.

And it’s those types of chances the Saints have been taking all year. You’ve heard of the "bend but don’t break defense? Well, this defense bends and breaks regularly, but among all of those breakdowns are a few key turnovers to shift the balance in their favor.

3 Responses

  1. bowling

    I love the fact that you liked the onside call (which worked) and didn’t like the fourth-and-1 call (which didn’t work). Classic if it works, I love it, but if it doesn’t it’s a stupid call commentary.

  2. bisonaudit

    What’s not to like about the 4th and 1? If you don’t make it its 1st and 99 yards to go with 100 seconds on the clock. As it turned out they stuck the Colts with terrible field position forced a punt and got their 3 points anyway. They took a chance at 7 and it ended up costing them nothing.

    Ar- moyer

  3. goethe

    I know what that looks like. Those who watched the game with me will vouch for me having said before that fourth-and-1 play that I didn’t like it.

    As to why, I know – much like the Bill Belichick fourth-and-2 earlier this year – that odds say go for it. But at that point in the second quarter down 7, I’d take the points and cut the deficit to 4.

    In reality, it worked out great for the Saints. The Colts were backed up and went three-and-out, and the Saints got their field goal anyway.

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