NEW ORLEANS – In an offensive explosion Sunday that included more than 1,000 yards and an NFL-record 13 touchdown passes by the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants, two of the biggest plays were fumbles.
One of them was lost by Saints receiver Willie Snead. The other was recovered by Snead. (UPDATED: A stat correction on Monday changed Snead's fumble to an interception instead, ruling that he never had complete control of the ball).
The latter came with less than 10 seconds remaining and set up a game-winning 50-yard field goal by Saints kicker Kai Forbath in New Orleans’ 52-49 victory.
“I was just at the right place at the right time,” explained Snead, who plucked the loose ball out of the air after Giants safety Craig Dahl had popped it loose from Saints punt returner Marcus Murphy.
Murphy’s return was fantastic. A 24-yarder to the Giants’ 47-yard line.
But that might not have been enough without the fumble -- or without even more fortuitous 15-yard facemask penalty against Giants punter Brad Wing as he tackled Snead.
That moved New Orleans to the 32-yard line, which put Forbath in range.
“The guy that I was supposed to be blocking just took himself out of the play, so I just wanted to be around the ball. And it just ended up working out,” Snead said. “The ball came out, popped up, grabbed it, just tried to hold on to it and give a chance to our kicker.”
Snead’s recovery not only allowed the Saints to win, but it brought him some redemption after a fumble earlier in the fourth quarter that felt like it might allow New York to steal a victory.
With 7:11 remaining and the game tied 42-42, Snead caught a short pass and hadn’t quite secured it yet as he turned upfield to try for the first down. Just as Snead turned, Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie delivered a big hit into Snead’s side that jarred the ball loose. Giants cornerback Trumaine McBride snatched it out of the air and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown.
Technically, it might have been an interception if the officials really felt like breaking down the tape and determining whether Snead ever completed the catch. Regardless, the result was the same.
Snead did plenty of other good things throughout Sunday’s game – including two first-half touchdowns, raising his total on the year to three TDs. Snead caught a total of seven passes for 76 yards, putting him on pace for 1,074 yards on the season.
It was Byrd’s first takeaway since he forced a fumble against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones in Week 1 of last season.
The Saints preached the importance of the turnover battle all week since the Giants came into the game with a NFL-leading turnover ratio of plus-10.
The Giants won the turnover battle 2-1. But Snead made sure it wasn’t 3-1.