Sean Payton gets ‘Ambushed’ by Bill Vinovich after surprise onside kick

You couldn’t script this any better. Sean Payton opened his Denver Broncos tenure with one of the most iconic plays of his New Orleans Saints career — or at least he tried to. Payton called the same “Ambush” onside kick he dialed up to open the second half of Super Bowl XLIV for the opening kickoff in Sunday’s Week 1 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, and at first it worked out. Former Saints kicker Wil Lutz did his job well.

Denver recovered. Players celebrated on the sideline and fans were raucous in the stands. Announcers on the broadcast couldn’t believe the gutsy decision. And then Bill Vinovich emerged.

That’s right — the head referee from the 2019 NFC championship game debacle, who neglected to throw a penalty flag or own up to the mistake that let the Los Angeles Rams get away with a blatant pass interference foul, helping to cost the Saints (and Payton) another Super Bowl berth. Vinovich hasn’t worked a game in New Orleans since that incident, but he was on hand when Payton’s Broncos hit the field.

And he threw the flag this time. Vinovich fouled Denver for an illegal touch penalty on cornerback Tremon Smith, wiping out the would-be onside kick. The Raiders took over inside Broncos territory instead and quickly drove downfield to take a 7-0 lead.

Ouch. Payton took a ton of Saints players and coaches with him this offseason after accepting the Broncos job. But he can’t take the playbook with him.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire