Saints receiver Marques Colston ended his team’s season with an illegal forward pass on Saturday in Seattle, one of the most bizarre decisions an NFL player has ever made at the end of a game. Colston said on Monday, however, that he made the throw he was supposed to make on the play, he just meant to throw a lateral, not a forward pass.
“It’s a play that we worked on,” Colston told ESPN. “Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation [being behind with time expiring and no timeouts], but the ball came out. And obviously the throw didn’t go the way I would have planned. But, it happens.”
Colston’s throw was odd for two reasons: First, it wasn’t your ordinary lateral that accidentally goes slightly forward. It was forward by a good five yards. And second, Colston easily could have stepped out of bounds and given the Saints time for a Hail Mary from the 40-yard line.
Saints coach Sean Payton took some of the blame for calling the trick play, saying the Saints shouldn’t have called it at that point in the game, when they still had enough time to run at least one more play after that.
“Marques has got a pretty good arm,” Payton said. You know, hindsight, [it was] a play where he could have caught it, stepped out and then maybe [we throw] a Hail Mary to the end zone. But it was a play we had put in a week and a half ago, prior to this game, which was a deep throw to Marques and then across the field.”
Even if Colston had stepped out of bounds, the Saints would have been an extreme long shot to win the game: They would have needed to score a 40-yard touchdown on the next play, then make a two-point conversion, then win the game in overtime. So Colston’s bonehead play won’t be remembered like Leon Lett touching a loose ball after a blocked field goal, which really did cost his team the game. Colston’s bonehead play may be remembered more like Leon Lett getting caught from behind, a dumb play that gives everyone a good chuckle.