New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton (left) reacts after a call by referee John Hussey (35) in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Payton addresses fake punt, 2 point conversions, officiating & Kamara/Murray

WWL Newsroom
December 10, 2019 - 1:47 pm
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by:  Tim Zimmer

The New Orleans Saints lost a heartbreaker Sunday to the San Francisco 49ers 48-46.  Saints head coach Sean Payton joined Zach Strief and Bobby Hebert on “The Saints Coaches Show” Monday night to recap the game and talk about questions Saints fans had as it relates to calls on the field and performance of his team.

Overall, Coach Payton was proud of the way his team played, although, the team did not come away with a victory.

“I thought our return game was outstanding.  The field position that Harris gave us was encouraging.  I would have never guessed that game would have ever unfolded as high scoring as it did.  I think the explosive plays obviously hurt us in the game.  It just kept going back and forth.  I was proud of the way our guys fought and we had some adversity and tough breaks.  Yet, we still gave ourselves a chance at the end,” said Payton.

Two of the biggest issues came from Coach Payton’s play calling.  Payton called a fake punt from the San Francisco 45 yard line, which resulted in a turnover on downs.  It wasn’t the non-pass interference call he was upset with, but the non-holding call on Tre’Quan Smith.

“When you’re punting the ball and you choose to throw the ball to one of your gunners, there is no pass interference.  Those jammers are trying to hold them up. One of the reasons you run that play, typically when you cross the 20, the jammers will back off because they know it’s a down punt.  My frustration was there still is defensive holding.  Obviously, it’s something you can’t challenge.  Your team understands we’re going out to win this game, we’re not going out here to let it unfold,” said Payton.

When asked about the officiating of the game and whether he was happy with the calls, Payton seemed pleased overall.  “John (Hussey) and his crew did a great job. He always does a good job at keeping the game in check with the players.  All the players know these are big games especially at this time of the year.  There’s playoff implications at stake, seeding at stake.  There’s always going to be some of those calls you look at, but overall I think both teams did a good job at playing and it wasn’t a game where you saw flags on the field all day,” said Payton.

Coach Payton also received some criticism for going to two-points early in the ballgame.  He talked about his reasoning for going for it in that spot.

“First off, I loved the play.  There was a personal foul, so we could take the kick at the 50.  You can think about pinning them back or taking an onside kick at the 50. We can take the two-point play on the one.  I knew exactly what we wanted to get to.  It was more about the penalty and the ability to run a play from the 1-yard line. Mainly that decision was about the personal foul and getting the ball on the one instead of the two yard line.”

Finally, the last thing Coach Payton was asked was the distribution of the football between running backs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.  Murray had 7 carries for 69 yards, which averages out to 9.9 yards per carry, although Murray only rushed the ball twice in the second half of the game with his last touch coming with 5:47 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

“The challenge each week is you want touches for these guys. Each week I’m thinking how am I going to get Alvin Kamara into the end zone and how can we get him some explosive plays. You want to ride the hot hand, but the hot hand was Brees as well.  It just unfolded that way and sometimes you can go in and have some control over that,” said Payton.

The Saints return to action primetime in NFL week 15, when they take on the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night football.  Kickoff in the Superdome is for 7:15pm. 

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