This is no trash talk, both teams played well, so on and so forth.
Since it hasn't found its way to YouTube yet, click here to review highlights from this Sunday's Saints-Falcons game. Skip ahead to the 2:38 mark to see a Saints punt bounce off the back of return blocker Thomas DeCoud's shoe as he's stepping out of bounds. Two Saints are able to Globetrotter'd the ball around until one of them falls out of bounds with possession in Falcons territory.
The Saints capitalized on the ball literally bouncing their way by scoring five plays later.
But field goals from the 11-yard line only connect about 90 percent of the time in the NFL. Ten percent isn't all that outrageous of a lucky break, especially since Hartley was kicking from a hash mark and had missed twice in the Superdome just two weeks earlier. It's not like this was '04 Adam Vinatieri missing an extra point, guys.
But either way, which do we think is less likely: erratic Hartley missing a nerve-racking field goal, or a punt bouncing off the back of a barely in-bounds, oblivious, fleeing special teamer's cleats and levitating long enough for two opposing players to lateral the thing back and forth while Chris Webbering off the field? Know what I mean?
Isn't one-in-a-million a wilder stroke of luck than one-in-ten?
And what would've happened if the ball had simply bounced out of bounds instead of hitting DeCoud's foot? The Falcons would've had the ball near midfield. Based on Atlanta's offensive performance throughout the rest of the game, a handful of first downs could reasonably be expected. The Falcons might have entered field goal range or scored a touchdown. They might've even gone three-and-out and punted New Orleans inside its own 20.
At worst, if the DeCoud play hadn't happened, two or three minutes would've slipped off the game clock and the Saints would've lost about 40 yards of field position. Since they only had one scoring drive of more than 50 yards all game, it would be hard to argue Drew Brees would've been able to find the end zone and give the Saints a brief lead. (Plus, remember Atlanta stoned the Saints' previous drive, forcing the subject of this post, a punt from deep in Saints' territory.)
If the Falcons had recovered that punt and put together a touchdown drive, as they did on their very next possession, the score would've been 24-14 entering the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Did the Falcons get lucky? The Falcons got one very, very lucky break, yes. But only an amateur football observer with no memory or sense of context would deny the Saints got one too.
Bottom line: the bad guys won, and the media should take a moment to accept it.