Nothing suggested that the odds favored the Saints.
It wasn't just that, entering Sunday's game against the Jets in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans only had converted 31 percent of the time (4 of 13) when facing third-and-7 situations this season.
Or that, up to that point in the game – specifically, with 11:32 remaining and New Orleans nursing a 17-13 lead – the Saints had converted just twice in eight third-down chances (25 percent, though one would-be conversion was wiped off the board by Brandon Coleman's lost fumble on the first play of the quarter).
Just as much as the aforementioned reasons, there was this: The Saints were mired in a rut offensively, not having scored since opening the game with a field goal and two touchdowns on their first three possessions.
So there wasn't much reason to have faith that, facing third-and-7 from their own 39, New Orleans would find a better recipe than the ones envisioned for third-and-5 or third-and-4 in the first quarter, third-and-8 in the second, third-and-4 or third-and-9 in the third, or the third-and-9 in the fourth – the play on which Coleman fumbled.
All of those plays failed.
This one, though, didn't.
The Saints broke the huddle having converted 30 percent of the time this season (24 of 79) when facing third-and-7 or longer. But the 25th conversion was a huge one.
On third-and-7 from the Saints 39, Drew Brees took a shotgun snap and connected with receiver Michael Thomas over the middle for an 11-yard reception. Thomas added six yards after the catch, the 17-yard play gave the Saints a first down at New York's 44 and six plays later – with a 2-yard penalty enforced against the Jets defense – Brees and Thomas linked again for a 4-yard touchdown pass that gave New Orleans a 24-13 lead with 7:39 left.
That proved to be just enough breathing room, as the teams exchanged touchdowns inside the final two minutes of the Saints' 31-19 victory.
Catch the Saints and Jets battle in Week 15 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.