Last weekend’s playoff game between the Saints and Eagles turned when the Saints successfully ran a fake punt while down 14-0 in the second quarter. They went on to end that extended drive with a touchdown, and eventually won the game 20-14. Thanks to a new clip released by the NFL Network, we know that the fake punt was not only a ballsy call, but one the Saints had had prepared for perfectly.
The fact that the fake punt worked is somewhat counterintuitive. The play was designed to have Sean Payton’s favorite gadget player, Taysom Hill, take the snap and run right up the middle. But waiting for him was was monstrous defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who was still on the field because the Eagles left their regular defense out there in anticipation of a fake punt. A base defense with Cox going up against any combination of offensive lineman and Hill is a matchup that should have favored the Eagles, and yet it was precisely what the Saints were hoping to see.
As the clip explains, the Saints had noticed that in previous games Cox failed to get off the line with any intensity while on the field to guard against fakes on fourth down. Thus he became the perfect target for Hill to run at, the first down was picked up easily.
Now Eagles fans can spend the rest of the offseason wondering if Philly might have gone on to win the game had Cox given his full effort and stopped the fake. Enjoy!