What would you do?
You are the New Orleans Saints. It’s Monday Night Football. You are winning 38-16 with 5:08 remaining in the game and you have the ball at your opponent’s 33-yard line.
Easy decision, right? You run the ball and kill the clock.
Now think about this; your quarterback, Drew Brees, is 30 yards short of Dan Marino’s record, set in 1984, for most passing yards in a season.
For head coach Sean Payton, the decision was an easy one; get the record.
Payton called for passes on five of the next six plays as Brees put up 32 yards to run his total to 5,087 yards for the season, passing Marino’s mark of 5,084.
Did an NFL record take priority over gamesmanship?
Is this what we should be aiming for; records instead of class?
“Someone is going to ask this question, so I am going to answer it before it’s asked,” Payton said. “Typically, would I be throwing there? … probably not. In fact, the answer is I wouldn’t be. But I thought it was appropriate to get [the record] and we did it.”
Payton went on to say, “We have a ton of respect for Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike [Smith], his staff and the players we just played against. It seemed like the right thing to do. As a coach, a lot of times you trust your gut and you either get complimented or criticized and you go from there. I felt real good about the decision.”
As for Brees, he wanted the record. “I hope Mike Smith knows that. We weren’t trying to run up the score or anything.”
For their part, Falcons players didn’t seem too upset.
“No man, it’s our job to stop them,” said linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. “I can’t say I’m upset by them running up the score or anything like that when I had a chance to make a play.”
Roddy White: “We didn’t make plays. We had to make plays, stop them and do our job, not worry about what they’re doing. Now, in a couple of weeks if we have to come back here, I might feel different. [But] not now.”
With one game remaining, Brees would certainly have broken the record without having to run up the score on Monday Night.
But what would you have done?