For five seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, Cam Jordan lived the dream.
Defensive linemen like tackles for loss. Defensive linemen like sacks. Defensive linemen adore sacks that force fumbles. But, above all, defensive linemen love to score touchdowns (defensive players in general love it, but perhaps linemen more so, because the opportunities rarely are presented).
The New Orleans Saints’ All-Pro defensive end was able to do just that Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in L.A. Memorial Coliseum. He completed the scoop-and-score portion of Trey Hendrickson’s strip-sack along with an escort provided by teammates, sprinting 87 yards with ease, a defensive touchdown in a game that was shaping up to be a defensive battle, a score that would nudge the Saints out to a 10-3 lead against the Rams.
Officials blew the third-and-7 play dead, ruling that it was an incomplete Jared Goff pass from the Saints’ 11-yard line (Goff batted the loose ball forward after the 8-yard sack).
The Saints challenged, successfully, that it was a fumble. And the call on the field was reversed, from incompletion to fumble and recovery.
But the return was nullified. The would-be touchdown was not to be. It happened, then didn’t, because the play had been blown dead, courtesy of the erroneous determination of an incomplete pass.
The Saints had the ball, but not the score, and they weren’t able to capitalize on the turnover; New Orleans drove from its 13 to the 48, but turned over the ball on downs when Alvin Kamara was tackled for no gain on fourth-and-1.
Los Angeles took the short-field possession and drove to the 4, and finished out the half with a 22-yard field goal to take a 6-3 lead.
True, two quarters remained and the Saints had more opportunities to score on offense and to force turnovers – and maybe score – on defense. But in what became a 27-9 loss, that play was a monumental shift, a 10-point swing that took points off the board for New Orleans in a game where points were especially precious for a team playing without its starting quarterback.