|Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's illegal timeout in the Saints' loss to the Chiefs was a hot topic on Monday. (US Presswire)|
A day after the Saints' devastating loss to Kansas City, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo explained why he called an illegal timeout that cost New Orleans a delay-of-game penalty on the Chiefs' game-tying drive at the end of regulation.
New Orleans called a timeout after stopping Jamaal Charles for a one-yard loss at the Saints' 34 on the first play following the two-minute warning. The idea was to get the ball back with time to score if Kansas City kicked a tying field goal.
But when the Chiefs' changed personnel after the timeout, Spagnuolo tried to counter with his own lineup change. Players appeared confused, and CB Jabari Greer ran off the field, leaving the Saints with 10 players before he tried to run back on and get in position.
That's when Spagnuolo called timeout, violating the NFL rule against back-to-back timeouts by the same team without a play being run.
The penalty moved the ball to the 30, turning a third-and-5 into third-and-inches, and QB Matt Cassel moved the chains with a sneak.
Two plays later, Ryan Succop drilled a 43-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
“My understanding was we're allowed to substitute in that situation,” Spagnuolo said. “We had guys coming off and on. We wanted somebody else to get back out there. I'll take part of the blame for that. I don't believe in taking any defensive timeouts. Those are supposed to be there for the offense. I knew that they were already in field goal range, but what I didn't want to have happen is I didn't want to lose the game because we had 10 men on the field and we couldn't defend that next running play, so I chose to call a timeout.”
At the moment he took the timeout, Spagnuolo did not think about it being illegal. He just wanted to avert a huge play.
“I knew right after I took it that you can't take two timeouts,” he said. “It was, ‘hey, let's not lose the game here, let's take the timeout.' The reciprocal effect was the penalty. I gave up five yards. I'm not sure he wouldn't have made it from the 34, but no excuses -- that shouldn't happen.”
In case you're wondering, Succop is 10 for 10 this year from 50 yards or closer and 0 for 2 from outside 50.
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on Twitter @CBSSaints.