Singularly, neither of the three plays was responsible for a New Orleans Saints victory Sunday.
But collectively, they epitomized the mind-set the Saints had against the Colts in their 27-21 win at Lucas Oil Stadium, which was the second consecutive win for New Orleans (3-4) and their third in four games.
A third straight Saints win on Sunday against the Giants (4-3) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which would be the Saints' first three-game winning streak since Games 9-11 of the 2013 season, would lift New Orleans to .500 for the first time since this stage of the season last year, when it split its first eight games.
The first play, in the first quarter, was a successful fake field goal attempt. Backup quarterback/holder Luke McCown completed a 25-yard pass to tight end Benjamin Watson on fourth-and-9 from the Colts' 26-yard line, leading to Khiry Robinson's 1-yard touchdown run on the next play.
The second play, with the Saints leading 27-14, occurred in the fourth quarter, on third-and-8 from the Saints' 3-yard line with 8:54 left. Drew Brees threw deep down the right sideline and connected with receiver Brandin Cooks on a 47-yard pass to get the Saints off the goal line and flip the field position in a game where momentum was shifting toward Indianapolis.
The third play put the Saints in position to run out the clock. With New Orleans clinging to its 27-21 lead, on third-and-4 from the Colts' 47-yard line with 2:09 left, Brees and Marques Colston went back-shoulder throw on Colts cornerback Darius Butler for a 20-yard completion that gave New Orleans the last of its 22 first downs, and allowed Brees to kneel thrice to exhaust the remaining time.
"I think it's important that your players feel like, 'We came here to win,' " Coach Sean Payton said. "Sometimes, those calls can be aggressive and yet, there's a mind-set that has been well thought out. Each week, that can vary."
The variations put in place against the Colts all seemed perfectly timed and executed.
"I think the calls were the best opportunity we had to win the game," center Max Unger said. "I think we're going to call plays that put us in the best position that we can be in when the game is on the line. So we dialed it up, and two guys made a heck of a play to seal the game at the end."
Specifically, Unger was referring to Colston's catch. And it was a daring, yet comfortable, call.
Colston and Brees tirelessly have worked to develop their chemistry in 10 seasons together, so the call for a pass on third-and-4, even at that stage of the game, was a safe call for the Saints. It helped that, at 6 feet 4, Colston possessed a sizeable physical advantage over Butler (5-10).
"It was big," Payton said. "The thing that (Colston) has done great over his career is, above his shoulders he has caught passes in front, behind or even well behind, purposely, and it's a strength of his. Yesterday, that very same thing happened.
"He's at the inside slot position and he's matched up bump-and-run and he essentially works a wide fade with the outside receiver coming underneath. Drew did a real good job of locating the ball on a high-point, back-shoulder throw. Marques reaches up and he's got a smaller defender covering him.
"You look at that play and it's almost, for those two, like completing a curl route as opposed to a 'Go' route. It was good to see the finish, him able to come down and secure the ball. At that point, we knew we were on a knee."
It's the kind of play and mind-set that the Saints hope will bring future opponents to their knees as New Orleans continues to ascend from its 1-4 start.
"(A 1-4 record) is not where you want to be, and I think we kind of realized that you can't go out there and not just cut it loose," Unger said. "I thought we were playing a lot looser.
"It's one of those things where you have to trust your gameplan and your talent. We know the talent is there, it's just our ability to go out there and execute the gameplan and do it with total confidence. I thought we did a pretty good job of that this last game."