NEW ORLEANS – That it was the absolutely perfect play call only makes the heartbreak of Brandon Boykin's illegal forward pass hurt more. After the Saints took a 28-13 lead late in the third quarter, Boykin received the ensuing kickoff on the left side of the end zone. After taking the ball out shy of the 5-yard line, Boykin, shockingly, turned and threw the ball across the field to wide receiver Riley Cooper.
The Saints coverage unit was fully planning on defending a kickoff to its right side and was caught completely off guard by the change of field. Cooper, with a bevy of blockers ahead of him, streaked down the sideline all the way to the end zone for what would have been a memorable, game-changing play.
Alas, what would have been, as the play was nullified because Boykin's pass traveled forward, rather than the required parallel or backwards.
"Stuff like that can be pretty exasperating obviously," said special teams coordinator Bobby April after the game. "We worked on it. (I) have to make sure we do it right and I guess it was forward from what everybody says, the refs made the right call. I have to help the players do better on that."
"It was clear that we threw it down the field, so you can't do that," said head coach Andy Reid. "We have to get that accopmlished. We thought we had a read on something there and we gave it a whirl.
Monday night could have been a game-changing performance from the Eagles special teams. They had already helped turn momentum earlier in the second half when reserve rookie running back Chris Polk forced a Travaris Cadet fumble on a kickoff after the Eagles had cut the Saints' lead to 21-10. The fumble was recovered by cornerback Brandon Hughes, giving the Eagles the ball back on the Saints' 22-yard line. But another stalled red-zone drive held the Eagles to a field goal.
"That was a huge play," said April. "Geez, we just scored, we go down there, we knock it loose around the (20-yard line). That's huge. But we have to do more, we have to do more things to win the game.
In the end, like much of the Eagles' season to date, it was another case of missed opportunities.
"I do think that they're getting better," April said of his special teams. "I do think they're getting better. We still have a lot of hill to take, but I think we're progressively taking it week to week and hopefully we can be a real factor in helping us win games. We've really been scratching trying to get that done and we've got to come out next week and try to do it again."
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