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Turning Point of the Game

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Turning Point of the Game in New Orleans Saints win over Los Angeles Chargers

Brees-to-Cook 41-yard touchdown pass gave the Saints a needed offensive boost

First thing: There aren't a ton of third-and-14 calls in the playbook. It's not a down-and-distance that teams routinely address, and not one that teams even want to have to address.

Second thing: The New Orleans Saints hadn't done a whole lot offensively, on Monday night against the Los Angeles Chargers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, to suggest they had a third-and-14 conversion in them en route to their 30-27, overtime victory.

By the time New Orleans arrived at third-and-14 from the Chargers' 41-yard line, with 11:29 left in the fourth quarter and trailing 20-13, it had been unsuccessful on eight of its first 11 third-down attempts. One, in fact, had been a third-and-14 attempt, but there also were empty third-and-3, third-and-1 and third-and-4 attempts, with the latter culminating in an interception.

So with an offense that hadn't operated very smoothly for three quarters, trailing by seven points and not having shown that they could protect quarterback Drew Brees long enough for a long route to develop, the Saints somehow pulled out their best offensive play of the game against the Chargers.

Tight end Jared Cook lined up closest to the line of scrimmage on the right side, inside of receiver Tre'Quan Smith. Cook had Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr., in front of him and as the play developed, Smith took a vertical route while Cook beat Murray off the line and began a diagonal route toward the left pylon.

Smith drew the attention of deep safety Nasir Adderley, and Murray appeared to pass off Cook to fellow linebacker Kyzir White. White didn't get the message.

Cook got behind White and the Chargers' three-man rush – eight dropped into coverage, correctly expecting pass on third-and-14 – didn't get pressure. Adderley recognized too late what was happening; the step and lean toward Smith had cost him the ability to recover.

Brees stepped up in the pocket, saw Cook clearing the defense and lofted a perfect pass over White to the tight end, who finished off the 41-yard touchdown reception with a leap across the goal line.

The score – New Orleans' longest offensive play of the game – allowed the Saints to tie the game at 20-20, erased a 20-3 deficit and provided the needed boost to help them post a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to force overtime.

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