Mostly, you're in the right place at the right time if you're hustling to be in the right place at the right time. And New Orleans Saints rookie receiver Marquez Callawaywas hustling Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, during the Saints' 27-13 victory over San Francisco, the sixth straight victory for NFC South Division-leading New Orleans (7-2).
Improbably, Callaway recovered two muffed punts against the 49ers. But each time, Callaway was hustling to get in position, doing a job (gunner on the punt team) that's sometimes thankless.
The second recovery helped New Orleans add on its final touchdown, an insurance score in the fourth quarter. But the first one helped flip momentum in the Saints' favor in the second quarter, at a time when the offense was struggling.
With 9:30 remaining in the first half and New Orleans trailing 10-3, the Saints were forced to punt after posting their third consecutive three-and-out on offense. And the punt wasn't an especially great one by Thomas Morstead – a 37-yarder that Niners punt returner Richie James signaled for his teammates to avoid, because it was landing in front of James and he was unable to make a play on it.
But the ball kicked back toward the Saints and in doing so, bounced off the back of San Francisco cornerback Ken Webster, who totally was unaware and was in the vicinity as a potential blocker for his teammate.
Callaway alertly saw the ball touch Webster and pounced on it, giving the Saints possession at the San Francisco 21-yard line with 9:21 left in the first half. Four plays later – including a roughing the passer penalty on San Francisco, which eventually was the blow that knocked Saints quarterback Drew Brees out of the game – running back Alvin Kamara scored on a 2-yard run to tie the score at 10 with 6:48 left.
New Orleans' 10th point of 27 unanswered points arguably were the most critical ones, because they helped boost a struggling offense. Callaway's muff recovery definitely was a major shot of adrenaline, because it gave the Saints a jolt of good fortune at a time they desperately needed it.