To say the last 30 seconds of the first half was a downer for the New Orleans Saints wouldn't nearly capture how deflating the turn of events could have been in New Orleans' 39-32 victory over Seattle on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome.
On first-and-20 from the Seattle 49, quarterback Andy Dalton completed a short pass up the middle to running back Alvin Kamara, and Kamara gained 10 yards which, at least, would have gotten the Saints into field goal range for Wil Lutz and given them a chance to increase their 17-13 lead.
But Kamara fumbled, Seattle recovered at the 43 and returned it seven yards to midfield with 20 seconds left, and three plays later the Seahawks popped the Saints for a 35-yard touchdown pass to take a 19-17 lead into halftime.
And since the Seahawks were set to receive the second half kickoff, they had a chance to build on the momentum. But Saints linebacker Pete Werner happened.
Seattle did, indeed, take the second-half kickoff and returned it 21 yards to its own 23-yard line. And the Seahawks opened with a play that looked fairly routine, an 8-yard completion from quarterback Geno Smith to receiver D.K. Metcalf. But while safety Justin Evans held up Metcalf while tackling him, Werner torpedoed in from the left side and unloaded on Metcalf while he was in Evans' grip.
The resulting hammering dislodged the ball before Metcalf's elbow hit the turf, and defensive tackle David Onyemata pounced on the loose ball at the 31. Officials reviewed the ruling, the on-field call was upheld and Werner had his second forced fumble of the season.
Six plays later, Dalton hooked up with rookie receiver Chris Olave on a 16-yard touchdown pass that allowed the Saints to retake the lead, 24-19, with 12:03 left in the third quarter. (Olave left the game after the catch, having sustained a concussion.)
Essentially, Werner helped New Orleans steal an extra possession for the offense, and that unit made good on the gift with the touchdown that allowed the Saints to extinguish the momentum Seattle had taken entering halftime.