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Falcons vs. Saints crazy first-half finish: Here's why three points were taken off the board

Posted Dec 7, 2017

The first half of Falcons-Saints ended with plenty of confusion. Here's what happened.

ATLANTA -- After Marshon Lattimore bullied Julio Jones out of the way and intercepted Matt Ryan’s pass during in the final seconds of the second quarter, the Saints were in position to try a field goal to take the lead heading into halftime of Thursday night’s NFC South showdown.

The 47-yard field goal by Will Lutz sailed through the uprights, but a penalty flag lay noticeably on the ground. After a quick conference, the lead referee announced that the Saints had lined up in an illegal formation and the first half would end without another attempt at three points for the visiting team.

Initially, it was believed that the referees had made an error. Because New Orleans had a timeout remaining, any 10-second runoff after a pre-snap penalty should have been negated by the Saints choosing to use their final timeout.

That option was not available to the Saints, however, as an illegal formation penalty is not a pre-snap foul. Therefore, because the clock hit zero as Lutz’s field goal crossed the uprights, the first half officially came to an end and the Saints weren’t eligible for an untimed down after the penalty.  

The score remained a 10-10 tie at halftime.

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