Kirwan chat: Manning played into Saints’ hands

So, we all know about the two obvious risks that Saints coach Sean Payton took in Super Bowl XLIV: going for it on fourth-and-goal just before halftime and opening the second half with an onside kick. As it turns out, though, defensive coordinator Greg Williams played with fire for most of the game, as’s Pat Kirwan explained Tuesday in a live chat.

Josh from Wellington, Fla., asked: “What did the Saints do so well to hold Indy to just 17 points?”

Kirwan’s answer: “I thought they had a brilliant defensive game plan. I talked to Scott Fujita yesterday about it, and their best package which dominated the game was a 3-3-5 defensive formation. Basically, they treated Dallas Clark like a wide receiver and replaced a defensive lineman with a defensive back. They were able to do the following things: Offer the run opportunity to the Colts, enticing them to run all they wanted. But unlike the first SB win by the Colts when they ran the ball 42 times, the Saints were betting that they wouldn’t run it 20 times, and they were right. The package the Saints ran also gave them blitz opportunities with two of the linebackers whenever they wanted and easily put them in eight-man cover schemes, which eventually caused Peyton to get into a dink-and-dunk short passing attack.”

So, in a nutshell, Williams gambled on Peyton Manning ignoring the run even if the Saints were willing to surrender it. And Manning played right into the defense’s hands.


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