It was a chunk play.
You know, the big gainer defenses hate to allow, especially in down-and-distance situations that are favorable to the defense.
This time, it was a 23-yard run on second-and-8, when the New Orleans Saints defense had Seattle's offense pinned at its 8-yard line on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Three-and-out went out the door when running back Chris Carson burst through the right side of the offensive line and took off, Saints in pursuit, attempting to keep Carson from going all the way and breaking a 7-7 tie.
But when Carson wedged through the left side of the Saints' defense and began his run with 7:05 left in the quarter, he naturally was preoccupied with what was in front of him, instead of what was behind him. And what was behind him was pursuit, led by cornerback Eli Apple and safety Marcus Williams.
As Williams began jostling with Carson on his left side and dragging him down from behind, Apple tracked him from the outside and attacked his right hand, where he was carrying the ball. And with a good tomahawk swing down, Apple dislodged it before the three players crashed to the turf.
Seattle players appeared to hesitate.
Saints safety Vonn Bell didn't, even after what happened the previous week against the Rams. Perhaps, he didn't hesitate especially because of what happened against the Rams, when the Saints defense had a touchdown taken away due to an officials' errant ruling and subsequent whistling the play dead.
Bell saw the unattended ball and gave it his full attention: He picked it up, began running down the left sideline, dodging a tackle attempt and slotting in behind a couple of teammates who doubled as road graders. When he crossed the goal line, he gave New Orleans a 13-7 lead.
The Saints (2-1) never surrendered that advantage, pushing it to 27-7 before settling for a satisfying, 33-27 victory over Seattle (2-1).
Apple and Bell, former Ohio State teammates, teamed to help give the Saints the play that broke the momentum Seattle was seeking, and gave it back to New Orleans.