3. The decision to go for two early in the game
Sean Payton was really aggressive in this game and he needed to be to beat the San Francisco 49ers. Whether it be the fake punt that the team tried in the fourth quarter or the two other attempts that the team had on fourth down, the Saints put the pedal to the metal all game.
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The one risky decision that Payton made that came back to bite him, outside of the fake punt which really should have been a first down, was going for two points on the second touchdown of the game.
Jared Cook caught his second touchdown pass in the first quarter and after an unnecessary roughness call the Saints had the choice to either enforce the penalty on the ensuing kickoff or the extra-point try.
Payton opted for the extra-point try, which moved the ball one-yard closer on the two-point attempt that the Saints tried.
I just don’t get the logic. Yes, I understand putting the foot to the gas and hindsight is always 20/20 and if they got the two-point the game would have been different, I get all of that. However, the game would have also been different if the team just kicked the extra point.
I don’t understand why teams let the one-yard difference be the difference in going for two, especially with the play that the Saints called. Why bounce the ball to the outside when the team could simply go with the coveted Drew Brees goal-line leap, which worked later in the game.
If you are going to let that one yard be the decision-maker for going for two then run a play that works from one-yard out, don’t run something that, if it worked, would have probably worked from two yards out as well.
If they would have kicked the extra-point, assuming the entire rest of the game went the same way, then they would not have been forced to go for two on their last touchdown, could have kicked the extra-point and would have been tied at 48.
Decisions like that seem small in the moment but as we saw in this game, it can have a ripple effect that in this case, influenced the outcome. I hate being a hindsight warrior but it is very easy to be frustrated about this.