Atlanta coach Mike Smith drew some criticism for his decision to punt on a fourth-and-6 with about three minutes remaining in Monday night’s 17-14 loss to the Saints. The Atlanta defense wasn’t able to keep New Orleans from running out the clock. But, in his meeting with the Atlanta media Tuesday, Smith said he has no regrets about his decision.
“Every decision is magnified and believe me we don’t always make the right decision,’’ Smith said. “Sometimes in hindsight you might make a different decision. But I can assure you this, the decision that I made last night, after sleeping on it I would have done the same thing. Again, that’s for the conversations. I’ve basically moved on because I can sit there every Sunday night or Monday night after a football game and evaluate my decisions and I’m not going to make the right decision every time. I think that’s how you have to approach it. I know it’s going to be a conversation piece because it was a crucial time in the football game. There were a number of plays that were the deciding factor in that ballgame it’s just not one play. We do the same thing in terms of making that decision.”
When Payton met with the media in New Orleans earlier in the day, he was asked about Smith’s decision. Payton said he wasn’t surprised and that his competitor made the right call.
“When you have two timeouts, the time left and the way you’re playing defensively, I think that’s the logical decision,’’ Payton said. “It was the same decision we would have made. Had that game been going back and forth in a high-scoring manner, you might think differently. Based on the way the defenses were playing, there was plenty of time and two timeouts. We had to convert two first downs. When we got the ball, certainly we were going to be smart and try to use the time, but I remember looking up thinking we’re going to have to throw it here. You’re not just under two minutes and a four minute offense. We’re going to have to convert a couple first downs. The lead was only three points, so even if you don’t convert and have to punt, you’re looking at a short amount of yardage. I think it was the right decision. I would have made the same decision.”