Final Play of Seahawks Win Over Saints (GIF)


Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) throws an illegal forward pass against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane (20) and cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Saints 23-15. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Were the Seattle Seahawks fortunate to beat the New Orleans Saints by a score of 23-15? If you saw the game, you know that things could have gone much worse.

Marshawn Lynch had a great game, but Russell Wilson did not. Drew Brees struggled at times, but he finished with 309 yards through the air and the Saints had an opportunity to tie the game at the very end.

Let me review the details for you. The Saints score a late touchdown to close the gap to eight points. An onside kick is obviously coming, as there are less than 30 seconds left in the game and New Orleans has no time outs.

The onside kick goes right to Golden Tate, but unfortunately it bounces off his chest and the Saints recover. There are 26 seconds on the clock, and fans wonder if this will be a repeat of the heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Falcons in last year’s playoffs.

Drew Brees completes an eight-yard pass to Jimmy Graham at their own 49 yard line. With the seconds ticking down, Brees spikes the ball to stop the clock. On the next play, Brees hits Marques Colston at the 38 yard line of Seattle. If Colston steps out of bounds, the Saints would have had about four seconds left for a final throw into the end zone.

Instead, Colston does this:

Colston is trying to extend the play by throwing a lateral to his teammate. You have to assume that Colston believes that time has expired. Unfortunately for Colston, his throw is way off. The throw draws a flag because it is an illegal forward pass. This penalty requires a 10-second runoff of the clock.

Game over.

It is easy to be an armchair quarterback and point out Colston’s mental miscue. Maybe he didn’t see the clock. In retrospect a Hail Mary from the 38 is a fairly easy throw for Brees, and if you throw a jump-ball into the end zone anything could happen. Jimmy Graham could have shaken off a terrible game and emerged the hero.

If Colston steps out, it could start a chain of events where Brees throws a touchdown, the Saints complete a two-point conversion and New Orleans takes the momentum into overtime where they stun the Seahawks. That may feel like a stretch, but it is not unheard of in the NFL.

Aren’t you glad Colston decided to throw that ball? It sure saved Seahawks fans a lot of heartache. Hopefully the ‘Hawks won’t let it come down to the final play next week.

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