If the season ended today, what New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins did in the final minutes of the Thanksgiving game at Dallas would have to be considered one of the top plays in the NFC South this year.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, Jenkins' play is going to end up very near the top. He prevented the Saints from enduring what would have been an embarrassing and disastrous loss and kept their hopes of winning the NFC South and repeating as Super Bowl champions very much alive.
It was a play that coach Sean Payton used the terms "heart'' and "effort'' to describe. No argument on those descriptions, but let's add "smart,'' maybe even "brilliant."
As Jenkins chased down Cowboys receiver Roy Williams in the waning minutes, the second-year safety knew he needed more than a tackle. Simply bringing down Williams after a long reception would have just allowed the Cowboys to run out the clock. Jenkins needed a turnover.
He got it. After taking a bad angle on coverage to help allow Williams to catch a slant pass, Jenkins was left to try to run down the Dallas receiver as he went deep into New Orleans territory. With Williams trying to protect the ball, Jenkins still managed to pop it loose as he caught the receiver at the 11-yard line. The ball fell right into Jenkins' stomach.
Trailing 27-23, the Saints were given new life. Thanks to Jenkins, Drew Brees and the offense came onto the field. They moved the ball quickly downfield and Brees hit Lance Moore with a touchdown pass that gave the Saints a 30-27 victory.