Truth is, quarterback Andy Dalton appeared to have made a bit of a mess on the New Orleans Saints' second possession of the third quarter Sunday, during the Saints’ 27-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the Caesars Superdome.
The first-down play perfectly was set up – a direct snap to running back Alvin Kamara, who threw a lateral to his right to Dalton, who had Kamara running free after he'd curled out of the backfield, down the left sideline behind the Rams' defense.
But Dalton never saw Kamara. Instead, he was looking deep to his right and instead of a big play, Dalton wound up not throwing into coverage and taking a 13-yard sack, back to his own 34-yard line. Even after Dalton erased the loss with a 13-yard completion to tight end Juwan Johnson on the next play, it seemed the Saints had missed a big opportunity to add to a 17-14 lead, given that the percentage of successful third-and-10 plays isn't an encouraging one.
Except, apparently, the Saints' offense had tempted the Rams into the perfect defense.
Because on that third down play, receiver Chris Olave flew past Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, right down the middle of the field. And Dalton, who completed 21 of 25 passes in the game, threw his best pass of the game as he found Olave in stride.
When the rookie crossed the goal line 53 yards later with 5:47 left in the quarter, the Saints had a 24-14 lead and the chunk-play pass that had been missing for several weeks.
Just as much, New Orleans – which also had scored a touchdown on its previous possession – electrified its home crowd in a manner that the previous two touchdowns hadn't, and perhaps delivered a message to future opponents about how aggressive it can be when it gets the defensive look it wants.
New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 11 game against the Los Angeles Rams.