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Detillier: Blocked punt “changed the world” for the Saints

Seth Dunlap
December 10, 2018 - 11:33 am
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The scene: A dreary afternoon in Tampa, Florida in a mostly-empty football stadium where the New Orleans Saints were in the middle of a six quarter stretch of the worst offensive football they’d played in over two season.  They’d managed three points in one half against the Buccaneers, a team struggling to a 5-7 record entering the game, but who had beaten the Saints already earlier in the season.

Nothing was going right for the Saints offensively.  They’d scored only one touchdown in the previous six quarters, and fans were beginning to panic (unreasonably) on social media.

The third quarter started much like the first half.  The Saints opened with a fumble then a punt on their first two possessions, and it seemed like the day was inevitably going to end in Cowboys-like disappointment.  

Enter Taysom Hill, the jack-of-all-trades freak athlete who had been a pivotal part of the Saints’ dominant season, but who had been nearly non-existent so far in the football game.   The defense had played yeoman’s-like football to that point, and had forced another punt a by the often explosive Tampa offense.   As Tampa lined up to boot it away, Hill broke free through the line after the snap and outstretched his arms to block the football away.   The ball wormed its way on the ground towards the Bucs end zone and was finally recovered by New Orleans.

One play.  One punt block.  New life and energy for this dormant Saints offense.

“You needed something to put the battery chargers on.  You put the cables on that play,” said WWL football analyst Mike Detillier on WWL Radio during his Monday Morning conversation with Tommy Tucker.

“No question about it.  Taysom Hill’s blocked punt changed that game completely and it gave this team some oomph they didn’t have before on offense.”

The Saints would score touchdowns on the ensuing drive, and their following two possessions.  In fact, they would finish the game scoring 25 unanswered points to storm back and swamp the Bucs 28-14 to capture their 11th win of the season, and secure their second consecutive NFC South division championship.

“You never know what turns a game around.  You just don’t play well.  The other team, they’re getting paid and they’re just playing better,” Detillier said.  “One play can turn a game around and we saw that yesterday with Taysom Hill.”

So what was the difference after the Hill blocked punt?  Was it just energy and willpower, or something more tangible?

“Offensively they got back to having some balance.  They didn’t run the ball well in the first half and then they put some emphasis on the running game and Drew (Brees) was Drew in the second half,” Detillier said.  “That blocked punt changed the world in that football game for New Orleans.  Everything seemed to go right afterwards.  It’s amazing what one play can do.”

The Saints are division champions but now have their eye on the top overall seed in the conference.  Thanks to Chicago’s 15-6 win over the Los Angeles Rams, the Saints are now back in the driver’s seat for that top spot.  They’re tied with the Rams in the standings, with both teams having identical 11-2 record.  However, the Saints win that tiebreaker due to their victory over the Rams earlier this season.

“Listen, I don’t believe in momentum.  Momentum lasts about as long as the next snap, the next game when you get hit in the mouth.   Good lord, you see the Panthers who you play next Monday, they’re a football team that’s unraveling, playing with no confidence at all,” Detillier deadpanned when asked if the Saints will use this game as a springboard for the rest of the season.

“Now you’re the number one seed.  You’re back at the top with the Bears winning over the Rams.  Keep hold of that.  That’s valuable.   Sean (Payton) has made no bones about that.  He feels that is so, so important down the stretch in January, to have that bye week and that home field advantage.  Nobody wants to come here with that noise, with that team and play in the Superdome. “

The Saints finish the season with a road game against the Panthers, followed by back-to-back home dates against Pittsburgh and Carolina.

You can listen to Detillier’s full interview with Tommy Tucker in the podcast below, or by clicking here.

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