Ambush play works for Thomas Morstead

February, 7, 2010
2/07/10
10:23
PM ET
MIAMI -- One of the biggest plays in Super bowl XLIV came from former SMU punter Thomas Morstead.

With the Saints trailing, 10-6, at halftime, coach Sean Payton came out of a meeting with the coaches and walked by Morstead's locker.

"It was 20 minutes left in halftime, and I wish he hadn't told me until the end," Morstead said. "He walked by me in passing and said it like it was no big deal."

After Payton told Morstead, he announced it to the rest of the team.

When Morstead came out for warmups after halftime was over, he was trying to practice one kickoff just to fake out the Colts.

"I kick the ball the same way every time," Morstead said. "To the deep right."

The onside kick is called ambush, and the funny thing about it is that Morstead just started practicing it a week and half ago. Normally, field goal kicker Garrett Hartley would attempt onside kicks.

Payton decided to try the onside kick because the coaches saw a hole in the coverage where the blockers backed up too much, leaving a space where a kick could bounce free.

"I wasn't worried, I was just terrified," Morstead said.

The ball bounced off a Colts blocker, and the Saints' Chris Reis recovered the ball, then lost it but recovered it again in the scrum.

"I was pulling guys off the pile when I saw Chris had it," Morstead said. "Then the referee pulls me away and then I hear 'Blue Ball.' That's when I went back in and I knew Chris recovered it. We were just fortunate."

After the referees said the Saints had the ball, they scored to take a 13-10 lead which eventually turned into a 31-17 victory.

"All week we had practiced that onside kick, and at halftime I just told those guys we have to make our look right here," Payton said. "It was a good hit by Thomas. Our guys did a good job of showing a normal kickoff coverage look, but it was something that we had seen in practice all week."

Morstead, a rookie who started his journey to the NFL as a walk-on at SMU before gaining a scholarship, had two punts for 88 yards for a 44-yard average. His longest was 46 yards, and he had one punt inside the 20.

Morstead is the first SMU player to get a Super Bowl ring since Dale Hellestrae did it with the Cowboys in 1996.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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