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In or out? Broncos return blocked PAT for win

Every football Sunday comes with the promise of something different. A blocked extra point returned for a score to win a crucial game for the Denver Broncos is something different.

Broncos special teamer Will Parks returned a kick blocked by safety Justin Simmons to break a tie and help Denver win 25-23 Sunday in New Orleans, sending the Broncos to 7-3.

The play comes with plenty of controversy as it appeared Parks stepped out bounds as he returned the ball the distance. The lack of a quality camera angle and Parks' clean white cleats made the call hard to conclusively overturn, and might have just won the game for Denver. As a wise man once said, it's gotta be the shoes.

"I thought he was in," Broncos safety Darian Stewart told CBS after the game. "I think the white cleats saved him."

Said Saints coach Sean Payton: "I didn't see a clear picture of (Parks) out of bounds."

NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino explained Sunday night on Twitter that the decision not to overturn the call of the field was because of the conclusive angle that showed Parks stepping out of bounds.

The dicey call on the field should not take anything away from Simmons' play. He did a terrific job leaping over the Saints' line with both feet in order to block Will Lutz's extra point attempt in a tie game with 1:22 left.

In a game that had a little bit of everything, Denver's special teams magic was just enough to deal the Saints a bitter loss.

Here's what else we learned as the Saints fell to 4-5 on the season:

  1. The blocked kick was particularly devastating because the Saints had just completed an incredible touchdown drive. Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks hooked up on two of the toughest connections possible for a total of 61 yards to tie the game. After a back-and-forth contest, the Saints were given the ball with under three minutes left, needing a touchdown against the vaunted Broncos secondary to win. Brees and Cooks delivered despite a strong Broncos pass rush and great coverage.

After two early interceptions, Brees put his team in position to win.

  1. This was a game of battling back for both quarterbacks. Trevor Siemian was savaged, sacked six times and hit 11 overall. His first interception, thrown with a 10-point lead, turned the game around. His second interception was worse. Yet we couldn't help but be impressed with the number of quality throws Siemian still made under duress in a gutty performance. He helped the Broncos play keep-away with almost 40 minutes time of possession.
  1. The Saints' pass rush and situational defense kept them in this game. They minimized the damage on four Saints turnovers, including two devastating fumbles by receiver Michael Thomas in the fourth quarter. The first forced fumble was by Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, who played a fantastic game overall. Denver's sticky secondary has done a good job overall surviving Aqib Talib's injury.
  1. Demaryius Thomas repeatedly beat Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux in key spots on the way to 87 yards on eight catches. With Denver's running game still erratic, Thomas stepped up.
  1. It's hard to overstate how devastating this loss is for a Saints team that battled hard to back to get to 4-4. They are set up for a "win or go home" game in Carolina on Thursday night.
  1. There aren't many defenders playing better lately than Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. He was all over the place as a pass rusher and run defender.
  1. The Broncos' offensive line makes it very difficult for them to operate as a team. This is a problem that isn't going away.
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