This one wasn’t as blatantly gutsy as his onside kick in the Super Bowl, but Saints coach Sean Payton went against conventional wisdom with a play call late in the fourth quarter and it turned out to be the decisive moment in New Orleans’ victory against Minnesota on Thursday night.
With a 14-9 lead and facing a third-and-1, Payton needed a first down or else he would risk the danger of giving Brett Favre the ball back for one last-gasp drive. It’s difficult to run on the Vikings, but it sure looked like that’s what the Saints were going to do.
They came out in a formation with two tight ends and running back Pierre Thomas lined up behind fullback Heath Evans as the Vikings stacked the box. But when you’re dealing with Payton, looks can be deceiving and this one was.
The call wasn’t for a run. Instead, quarterback Drew Brees faked a handoff to Thomas. As that was happening, Evans faked, at first, as if he was going to be the lead blocker for a Thomas run. Then he quickly drifted over into the left flat.
Brees lofted a short pass to Evans in the flat. The Saints had their first down and the drive was extended while Favre stayed on the sideline.