The Eagles, down 13-10 with roughly six minutes to play, had a chance to force overtime against the Saints, or win it in regulation. Then came a pick-six by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore that iced the game.
After the game, Lattimore told PFT by phone that he recognized based on the formation that the ball was coming to the man he was covering, receiver A.J. Brown, on a slant route.
Lattimore explained that he recognized what was happening based on film study and the flow of the game.
“The film is one thing, but when you get on the field, you’ve got to get a feel for anything that’s going on,” Lattimore said. “I was picking up throughout the game, the whole game. When the opportunity came, I had to capitalize on it. It. I actually should have got it earlier, earlier like in the first half. I should have got one.”
Lattimore said it was a combination of seeing Brown split wide alone on one side of the field, and pre-snap motion.
“I just picked it up,” Lattimore said. “I just knew it was coming. I just knew.”
On Monday, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni accepted blame for calling a play that the defense was able to anticipate.
“I’ll take responsibility for the interception,” Sirianni told reporters. “We came back to a play that we had run earlier in the game, and they recognized it and they made a play off of it. We gave them a recognizable formation and they made a play off of it. We put them in a tough spot right there. I think that’s obviously a major turning point in what people envision Gardner [Minshew’s] game being. They’ll put a lot of that on that play. But I’m accepting responsibility for that. That’s on me. We put him in a tough spot right there.”
The pre-snap motion put four receivers to one side, and Brown alone on the other.
“That’s a very recognizable formation,” Sirianni said. “A good corner made a play. . . . They recognized it. [Saints coach] Dennis Allen is a good coach. He recognized it. They had made an adjustment. They made a play.”
It’s the kind of mistake that is easier to make late in the season, given the amount of film that’s out there. Self-scouting becomes critical as the playoffs approach, because there’s enough evidence on tape for smart defensive coaches to figure out trends and to have their players ready to spot them — especially when smart players like Lattimore see it coming.