NEW ORLEANS -- Sean Payton talked all week about how he needed to get C.J. Spiller more involved in the New Orleans Saints' offense and how they needed to figure out how to make some more explosive plays.
Who knew he planned to wait until overtime to do it?
Spiller's 80-yard touchdown catch -- the 400th TD pass of Drew Brees' career -- gave the Saints (1-3) their first win of the season just 13 seconds into overtime as they beat the Dallas Cowboys 26-20 on Sunday night.
Up until that point, the Saints had only two pass plays of longer than 30 yards all season, and both had come back in Week 1.
Brees had an excellent performance in his return from a shoulder injury. He finished 33-of-41 for 359 yards and two touchdowns. But he struggled to get the ball downfield consistently, and narrowly avoided interceptions on three different occasions.
Small ball almost worked for the Saints, but kicker Zach Hocker doinked a 30-yard field-goal attempt off the left upright late in regulation to force overtime.
They needed the big play to get it done.
What it means: The Saints are still on life support. Things still aren't looking great with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons both leading the NFC South at 4-0. But the Saints finally have things pointing in the right direction.
Plus, the Saints finally figured out how to incorporate Spiller into the offense.
Gutsy call pays off: The Saints made a bold move to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Cowboys' 45-yard line early in the fourth quarter, and it paid off. Brees completed a 9-yard play-action pass to running back Khiry Robinson. The Saints went on to score a touchdown to go ahead 20-13. For an offense lacking explosive plays, that short gain was the second-biggest play of the night.
One reason to panic: The Saints' defensive backs can't stop getting flagged. They drew six more penalties on Sunday night, some of them costly as they kept drives alive. One of them was for pass interference against cornerback Delvin Breaux in the end zone. The Saints' defense played bend-but-don't-break for most of the night, but Brandon Browner gave up a 67-yard pass at one point, and Breaux gave up a 17-yard TD on fourth-and-7 late in regulation. And the Saints still don't have any interceptions this season.
Another reason to panic: Brees got hit way too much early in the game as the offensive line took too long to get started in both pass protection and the run game. The offensive line was supposed to be one of the strengths this year, but consistency hasn't been there yet.
Fantasy watch: Assuming the Saints can't count on 80-yard TDs from Spiller in overtime every week, they still need to find more big plays from Spiller and receiver Brandin Cooks. Spiller had just two carries for 10 yards and four catches for 19 yards before his TD. Cooks caught just four passes for 25 yards.
Ouch: Saints punter Thomas Morstead was sidelined by an unspecified injury during the second half. And the Saints avoided a scare when left tackle Terron Armstead left briefly in the second quarter, but he returned after halftime.