I can easily imagine the look on New Orleans Saints fans around the country as that bizarre final play with Marques Colston unfolded. Colston, who caught a pass from Drew Brees at the Seattle Seahawks‘ 37-yard line, made the catch near the sideline with seven seconds on the clock trailing Seattle 23-15.
Instead of quickly getting himself out of bounds in the hopes of having one last chance for the team to get into the end zone, Colston threw a forward lateral to Travaris Cadet, missed by a wide margin, and the inevitable penalty came with a 10-second run off that ended the game.
It was not clear whether this was a horrible judgement call on Colston’s part or a poorly executed last ditch attempt called from the sidelines by head coach Sean Payton. At the press conference after the game, when asked about the play in question, Payton was quick to neutralize and move on, saying “We’ll look at the film. Next question.”
From Payton’s response, it seems the play was planned and simply botched. But on the other hand, it very well could have been Payton simply protecting his player and taking some of the blame. That is part of being a leader and being a coach, after all.
Let’s be clear, however, that last second play and the forward lateral by Colston is not the reason New Orleans lost that game. Their offense played poorly, kicker Shayne Graham missed two field goals, and the Seahawks are a very good team. Don’t forget that Colston is still a very good player, has been very reliable throughout his career, and is the current leader in receiving yards.
Did he execute poorly? Yes, he did.
Does he deserve loads of criticism? No, he does not.
For Colston in the Saints, it was just not their day. At least they made it to the playoffs, and there is always next season.