"Run a play, run a play," a couple of Detroit Lions defensive players said. It was fourth-and-1 from the New Orleans 38-yard line. The Saints had just taken a 17-14 lead, their first of the game, early in the third quarter. They had the momentum but not the best field position.
The call came in from Sean Payton. Go for it.
"Aw, man, I love it," Nicks said.
How do you know it is playoff time in New Orleans? Payton has dialed it up another notch. The Saints are aggressive by nature. In the postseason, they are unrelenting. It is Payton's way, and his players, to a man, said they love it, even if it means going for it in their own territory with another offense salivating on the sideline, waiting for a mistake.
In a 45-28 wild-card playoff win Saturday over Detroit, Payton went for it four times on fourth down. In the regular season, New Orleans had the best third-down percentage in the league at 56.7 percent, more than 20 percentage points better than the league average and almost eight percentage points ahead of second-place San Diego. Now, the entire field, it seems, is fourth-down territory.