Taking a loss in the NFL is never easy, but seeing the game slip away on a blocked extra point is among the worst ways to go down.
You could see a lot of emotion in the face of Saints kicker Wil Lutz in the locker room after the game, and he was short with his words.
“I’m just trying to take it all in,” says Lutz, who’s now seen two of his kicks returned by their opponent this season.
Broncos safety Justin Simmons cleared the line with an impressive and athletic leap to block the kick, but it’s what happened around him that’s raising eyebrows.
“I felt like their defensive tackles pulled me down,” says Saints long snapper Justin Drescher. “So I couldn’t pop up as fast. That’s what I felt in the time at the moment.”
NFL rules state that defenders are allowed to leap the line as long as contact isn’t made with the center. However, defenders are not allowed to pull down an offensive blocker in order to create space for a teammate to rush or use an offensive blocker to gain leverage.
But that’s only the first part of the play that it appears the game officials missed.
On the return, it looked like Denver’s Will Parks stepped out of bounds. On the television replay, you can clearly see a number of Saints staff and players pointing to the spot. But with Parks’ white shoes, it was difficult to see whether he’d truly stepped out of bounds. The officials ruled that the play stands, and just like that, the Saints two-game win streak came to an end.
“It’s frustrating,” says Drescher. “It’s horrible. I feel horrible for every guy in this room.”
For Lutz, it’s another game-deciding play on special teams that didn’t go his way. His blocked field goal that the Giants returned in week two served as their only touchdown of the game and also decided the outcome of the game. His fellow special teamers, Drescher and punter Thomas Morstead, are quick to take the blame away from their rookie kicker.
“When there’s a guy in his face three yards from the ball, it’s hard to put any of the fault on him,” says Morstead. “His job is to keep his eyes down and kick the ball, and it sounded like a good hit.”
For better or worse, it’s a quick turnaround for Lutz and the Saints as they get ready to face the Panthers on Thursday. When they met earlier this season in the dome, it was Lutz that kicked the 52-yard game-winner.
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