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Sean Payton, Brees defend Saints' decision to punt

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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton decided to punt the ball down five points with 1 minute and 58 seconds left in an eventual 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

With the ball at their own 7-yard-line and two timeouts, facing a fourth-and-6, Payton believed the best move was to kick it away.

"There's an aggressive side of you that wants to go for it," Payton said following the loss, via ESPN.com. "(But) I think with the two timeouts and the situation that we had, two minutes, it's something that we would normally do. I think most people would.

"If the distance was inside of three, maybe four yards. Having the two timeouts you're going with your gut there."

The Cardinals scored a touchdown two plays later, laying waste to Payton's overly optimistic plans. 

It's debatable whether "most people" would punt in that situation. Among the conservative coaching circles of the NFL, however, Payton likely isn't wrong in believing many coaches would.

My boss' thoughts:

"Yeah, that was a big discussion," Drew Brees added. "Hindsight, obviously, because they scored two plays later. But you know, you just feel like, 'OK, here's the scenario, we punt, we stop 'em, use our timeouts, we get the ball back with 1:03, something like that.' And you're like, 'OK, we like our chances there better than, all of a sudden if we miss that, then pretty much the game's over.'

"So it was one of those tough ones that there was certainly a big part of me that wanted to go for it, but we both agreed at the end of the day to punt."

Had the Saints not gone 1-of-4 in the red zone in their first game sans Jimmy Graham, it likely wouldn't have come down to a to-punt-or-not-to-punt debate.

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