Sean Payton dials up fake punt, doubles down in red zone with Saints trailing early

Aggressive play-calling has been a big theme during the NFL’s divisional playoff round.

We should expect no less from Sean Payton.

The man who shocked the football world with an onside kick to open the second half of Super Bowl XLIV rolled the dice early twice Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Saints gamble after digging early hole

The Eagles punched the New Orleans Saints in the mouth to open Sunday’s playoff game, racking up 14 points before the Saints gained a yard of offense.

When the Saints faced fourth down in the second quarter facing that two-touchdown deficit, Payton did not play things safe.

He sent out the punt team on fourth-and-1 at the Saints 30-yard line. But instead of hiking the ball to punter Thomas Morestead, long snapper Zach Wood snapped it to backup quarterback and do-everything utility player Taysom Hill, who was lined up near the line of scrimmage. Hill barreled ahead through a pile to gain a Saints first down.

True to form, Sean Payton rolled the dice when the Saints needed a spark on Sunday. (Getty)
True to form, Sean Payton rolled the dice when the Saints needed a spark on Sunday. (Getty)

Payton rolls dice again

Sparked by the winning gamble, the Saints quickly marched downfield, but faced another big decision when the Eagles stopped them on third-and-goal at the 2-yard line.

Think Payton gambled with a fake punt in New Orleans territory only to kick a field goal inside the 5-yard line?

Nah. That’s not his style.

The Saints offense took the field on fourth down. They lined up in a bunch formation with Alvin Kamara in the backfield. But it wasn’t a run.

Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood broke away in the flat, and Brees found him near the sideline to get the Saints on the board.

Many expected the Saints to blow the doors off the Eagles on Sunday and march to an NFC championship game matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

When the defending champion Eagles opened with other plans, the Saints were forced to respond. They did not do so meekly.

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