Check out the Saints in action in their season opener against the Raiders.
Three points, obviously, wasn't what the New Orleans Saints wanted. But it was better than the alternative of not scoring.
So Wil Lutz's 20-yard field goal, after the Saints had driven into position to be first-and-goal from Oakland's 8-yard line, was shaky – the attempt was deflected, but managed to creep over the crossbar – but successful. And more, it boosted New Orleans' advantage to eight points, 27-19, forcing the Raiders to need a touchdown and successful two-point conversion to tie the game Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
With 8:42 left to play in regulation, there was an eternity of time left to play. Best-case scenarios for the Saints were to create a turnover or force a punt, a little-less-than-best-case was to limit the Raiders to a field goal, preferably after a time-consuming drive.
Absolute worst case? A 75-yard touchdown run, on second down, to complete a 16-second drive by the Raiders.
Jalen Richard's tackle-breaking dash, and Oakland's subsequent, successful two-point conversion to tie the score, didn't break the Saints. New Orleans, in fact, went on to retake the lead on its next possession – a three-play, 84-yard touchdown drive of its own that featured a 43-yard pass from Drew Brees to Willie Snead IV, a fumble by Snead on the play, and a recovery and 10-yard advance by rookie receiver Michael Thomas, who was trailing the play.
But Richard's run put the Raiders in position to win the game with another touchdown and two-point conversion. Instead of a field goal to pull to within 27-22, and a Saints touchdown to give New Orleans security, it allowed Oakland to keep pace.
And the speed of it assured that, after the Saints scored, Oakland would have enough time to construct its final drive.
It was, perhaps, the critical offensive play for the Raiders, a seemingly bonus score at the time they needed it.