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by Ben Burns - 12/14/2009
Who ‘dat going to screw the over?
In a season chock full of controversial coaching decisions, New Orleans’ Sean Payton made and got away with one Sunday in Atlanta.
Bettors who had over 50 weren’t so lucky.
Leading 26-23 with 2:07 to play, the Saints faced a 4th-and-7 on the Falcon 15. They lined up for what would have been a total-eclipsing, 32-yard field goal.
But instead, Payton called a fake. Backup quarterback and holder Mark Brunell looked into the end zone, where a player appeared to be open briefly, but decided to check down and ended up throwing an incomplete pass.
"We felt like if we got on the right mark and the situation allowed, then I was going to call it," Payton explained the call to reporters. "They did a good job covering. We were up three and my goal was to go up by 10. It's certainly risky not getting those points and going up a full score, but we felt comfortable enough that we would get it."
Some might disagree, but being up six isn’t that much safer than being up three, especially with the Saints depleted defense that has made Jason Campbell and Chris Redman look like All-Pros in back-to-back weeks.
In that situation, a first down or a touchdown on the fake puts the game away; a field goal does not.
But Payton’s gamble was only one of several frustrating plays for over bettors. The Falcons scored only one touchdown in four red-zone opportunities, and Saints kicker Garrett Hartley doinked an extra point off the upright in the first half.
With so many opportunities, this game should have gone over.
Our condolences go out to those who had the over. You deserved better.