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Sean Payton on fourth down: We wanted to make a play, fortunately they intercepted it

The New Orleans Saints have a lot of skilled position players, which is a stark contrast from the Carolina Panthers.

It’s not often that a coach is happy to see his quarterback throw an interception, but Saints coach Sean Payton felt fortunate when Panthers defensive back Mike Adams intercepted the Saints’ last pass.

Payton said after the Saints held on for a 31-26 win that his decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 with two minutes left in the game was all about trying to be aggressive. It didn’t work, but because Adams intercepted Drew Brees’s pass rather than knocking it down, it didn’t cost the Saints as much field position as it could have.

“We went with a little hard count, called a timeout, and going to win the game,” Payton said. “I was talking to Drew about, we could punt there and play with a little longer field position, no timeouts for them, yet we felt we had a call. Tried to get Mike Thomas, they did a good job in coverage and they made a play. Fortunately it ended up being intercepted. That’s part of it.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera also said he wished Adams had knocked it down -- and that the play had been reviewed on instant replay to determine whether Adams actually had possession.

“He’s excited, he’s got a chance to make a play,” he said. “You wish he would have dropped it or batted it down, just knowing the situation and circumstances.”

Adams should have known to knock the ball down, but in the heat of the moment he grabbed the ball and held on. That cost the Panthers about 16 yards of field position, which they could have used as their final drive fell short. It was an interception that ended up helping the team that threw it.