The Saints got the ball back at the 33-yard line Monday night, up 38-16, with just over five minutes remaining.
Drew Brees needed 30 yards at the time to break Dan Marino’s record. The Saints would usually be running the ball in that situation. But this wasn’t a usual situation.
Saints coach Sean Payton clearly wanted to get the record on Monday Night Football. He admitted so after the game.
“Typically, would I be throwing it there? The answer would be probably not. In fact, the answer would be ‘I wouldn’t be.’ But I thought it was appropriate that we get the record. And we did it,” Payton said, adding how much he respected the Falcons.
After a one-yard run by Pierre Thomas on the second play of the drive, the Saints kept throwing. We didn’t have a problem with the strategy. There’s no rule saying the Falcons couldn’t stop Brees.
Payton and Brees were trying to get the record out of the way and celebrate on a special night in New Orleans. Not everyone agrees with our view.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports questioned whether the approach was “classy.” Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com criticized the Saints, saying that running up the score took some shine off the record. Falcons players agreed.
“No need for that,” one player told Prisco. “It came on our watch, but it didn’t have to come that way. We won’t forget it.”
Falcons coach Mike Smith said only positives about Brees after the game, but Prisco writes via team sources that Smith wasn’t happy with Peyton’s decision to go for it.
“That’s just who they are,” the Falcons player said. “We’ll see them down the road. We won’t forget any of it.”
That’s the beauty of this situation. There’s a strong chance that “down the road” will be in two weeks, when the Falcons possibly head back to the Superdome in the Wild Card round.