Saints coach Sean Payton wasn't in a mood to be second-guessed following his team's last-minute Week 14 loss to the 49ers.
San Francisco ultimately won the thrilling back-and-forth matchup by two measly points -- a game in which New Orleans attempted two two-point conversions.
After Tre'Quan Smith scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass to give New Orleans a 46-45 lead with 53 seconds remaining, quarterback Drew Brees went back to the same well for the two-point conversion attempt, but the pass intended fell incomplete. On the ensuing possession, 49ers tight end George Kittle caught a 39-yard reception on fourth-and-2, eventually setting up a game-winning Robbie Gould 30-yard field goal as time expired.
But after the tough loss, it was the former two-point try, not the latter, that Payton was questioned about -- while shopping for groceries, no less.
"I certainly understand the fans asking questions," Payton said Thursday on his weekly WWL Radio show. "I got the guy at frickin' Whole Foods asking me about the two-point play. I looked at him, the guy in the meat section, and I said, 'Hey, your steaks don't look too good right now. Worry about your frickin' meat.' "
Oh man. What's the over/under on how many "Worry about your frickin' meat" shirts will be at the Superdome when the Saints host the Colts on Monday night?
The play in question occurred midway through the first quarter, after Saints tight end Jared Cook hauled in his second touchdown reception of the contest. The 49ers were assessed a personal foul on the play, and rather than take the yardage on the kickoff, Payton couldn't pass up being so close to the goal line.
On the two-point try, Brees handed the ball off to a motioning Taysom Hill, who promptly was stuffed by multiple San Francisco defenders well short of the end zone.
"I didn't feel like kicking a touchback, thought about kicking an onside kick," Payton explained. "So on the 1-yard line, I think we're gonna get two points. And then we get the defense misaligned -- obviously it doesn't have any success. And then the game ends, and, 'Why were you going for two?' Because I wanted to. We were on the 1-yard line."
Misaligned, huh? Payton was correct in stating that the 49ers were in an atypical alignment with two safeties on the same side of the field, but according to San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, that was intentional.
"We knew it was coming," Saleh said Thursday in response to Payton's claim that one of the safeties accidentally lined up on the wrong side. "I’m not going to say he wasn’t on the right side because of the way we execute certain things and all our different goal-line packages that we have, but that play was a gimme one to me with Taysom Hill where he was aligned. That was a layup in my opinion."
The tape sure seems to suggest the 49ers knew what was coming:
This was the Saints' first failed two-point-conversion attempt. Taysom Hill ran a jet sweep into two unblocked defenders.— Iggy Cohn (@grantcohn) December 11, 2019
The 49ers knew this play was coming. pic.twitter.com/IMDbHOgZR2
The Saints hung 46 points on the 49ers, so clearly, not many of Payton's play-calls were of the layup variety. But the first two-point attempt?
You might say he butchered that one.