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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

Sean Payton makes inexplicable blunder at end of loss to Cowboys

Sean Payton

The New Orleans Saints were outplayed by the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, but a few coaching blunders by Sean Payton sure didn’t help matters. One mistake made by Payton at the end of the 13-10 loss was inexplicable.

With just under three minutes to go, the Cowboys and Saints traded turnovers. First New Orleans forced a turnover with a strip sack by Cam Jordan. The Saints gave the ball back to the Cowboys two plays later on an interception thrown by Drew Brees.

The Cowboys got the ball with 2:08 left and the Saints only had one timeout. Dallas ran Ezekiel Elliott on first down for two yards. At that point Payton inexplicably burned his only remaining timeout with 2:03 remaining.

Why was that so dumb?

All Payton had to do was wait three more seconds for the 2-minute warning to stop the clock. The Cowboys likely would have rushed two more times after that — once to get the Saints to burn their final timeout, and the next to run time off the clock. Dallas then probably would have kicked a field goal, and New Orleans would have gotten the ball back down six points with no timeouts and around 45 or so seconds left. They would have had a chance to win.

Instead, because Payton had stopped the clock at 2:03, the Cowboys knew their next play would be stopped due to the two-minute warning. That means they could attempt a pass rather than a low-percentage run aimed at killing the clock. Dallas of course took advantage of the opportunity and called for a pass. The Saints were flagged for pass interference, giving Dallas a first down. That ended the game because the Cowboys could kneel out the clock.

The Saints’ chances of winning wouldn’t have been great, but at least they would have had a chance had Payton handled things the way he was supposed to. Between the terrible timeout usage and burning his challenges early, it was not a good night for Payton.

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