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by Ben Burns - 10/26/2009
Whether you won or lost, the Saints’ remarkable cover against Miami is the type of game that messes with your mind. It lingers and affects the way you bet for weeks.
If you had the Dolphins plus 6, you’re heartbroken and have lost a lot of confidence. If you had the Saints, you’re probably a little bit over-confident. How you react in coming weeks could be the difference of a winning season and a losing one.
Here’s how it all went down:
The Dolphins jumped out to a 24-3 lead and were dominating in the second quarter.
The Saints went backwards on three of their first-half drives, including one that began at the Miami 16. New Orleans had only two first downs by the time Miami had 24 points. Drew Brees was sacked three times and threw two picks in the first half. The Saints were flagged for five penalties and went 2 of 9 on third downs. They looked like the Redskins in Saints’ clothing.
"Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong," Brees told reporters. "The turnovers. Whatever, the batted balls. The penalties. All those things that just gave us no chance. Obviously, the first half was something to be forgotten.”
Well, not the entire first half.
With less than two minutes left in the second quarter, Chad Henne had the Dolphins on the move inside Saints’ territory. But Davone Bess fumbled, giving New Orleans the ball near midfield with 1:38 before half.
Suddenly, Brees started clicking. He hit Lance Moore for seven yards, Reggie Bush for five and Jeremy Shockey for 9. He then found Marques Colston over the middle for what was originally called a 21-yard touchdown. But the play was reviewed and overturned. Colston was called down inside the Miami one-yard line with five seconds left.
With no timeouts left, Saints coach Sean Payton was forced to rush the field goal team onto the field. Somehow, this confused Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who called timeout because he “wanted to get the correct personnel on the field.”
Given the additional time to assess the situation, Payton sent his offense back onto the field. Brees scored on a quarterback sneak to make it 24-10 at half.
It hurt, but Dolphins backers had to be happy up 14 heading at the break.
The third quarter went back and forth, with Miami answering two New Olreans’ touchdowns with a field goal and touchdown of its own.
The Dolphins took a 34-24 lead into the fourth quarter. After the Saints took their opening possession of the fourth quarter right down the field and scored on a 10-yard run by Bush, it seemed inevitable that New Orleans was going to pull out the victory. The only question was would they cover.
The Saints took their first lead of the game on a two-yard touchdown run by Brees with 8:35 left. The extra point was missed, leaving Miami is easy covering range, trailing 37-34.
After holding Miami to a three-and-out, the Saints looked to salt the game away on their next possession. They drove 64 yards to the Dolphins’ two-yard line. But Miami managed to keep the Saints out of the end zone and held them for a field goal.
Those who bought an extra point and had the Dolphins plus 7 had to be feeling good, down 40-34 with three minutes to play. Those who had six seemed destined to settle for an extremely disappointing push.
But disaster struck Dolphins backer on the ensuing possession. Under serious pressure, Henne threw one up for grabs on 4th and 13. Saints corner Tracy Porter picked it off and raced 54 yards for a covering touchdown. Final score: New Orleans 46, Miami 34. Ouch.
Condolences to: Anyone who had Michigan State -2 against Iowa. The Spartans have a game-sealing interception nullified by penalty and allowed the Hawkeyes to score on the last play of the game for a 15-13 win … Anyone who had Nebraska -20.5 against Iowa State. The Cornhuskers turned the ball over eight times, four of which came inside the Iowa State 5-yard line, and lost 9-7 to the Cyclones.