Wide receiver Michael Thomas burned Rams cornerback Marcus Peters on a 72-yard bomb to extend the Saints’ lead to 45-35 with 4:02 to play in New Orleans.
Then Thomas, with 12 catches for a franchise-record 211 yards and a score in the Saints’ win, pulled a flip phone from beneath the goal post.
He appeared to dial and held the phone to his ear.
“I had my plot set up,” Thomas told reporters after the game. “I had it set up to where I was anticipating to get in the end zone.”
How did he know which side of the field to place his prop?
Thomas covered his bases, hiding a flip phone under a goal post in each end zone.
His celebration was a nod to legendary Saints receiver Joe Horn, who famously celebrated with his own hidden flip phone after a December 2003 touchdown vs. the New York Giants.
Horn played for the Saints from 2000-06 and is in the top five in almost every receiving category for the franchise.
He saw Thomas’ celebration while working out in Tupelo, Mississippi, per NOLA.com columnist Jeff Duncan, and even purchased the Pro Bowl receiver’s jersey in the aftermath.
“When I saw him bring out that cellphone, it brought a tear to my eye,” Horn told Duncan. “For him to pay homage to me in that way…that’s something that some kids don’t do, to pay homage to an old soul.
“For him to do it on a national stage took a lot of courage. I’m humbled.”
Teammates lauded Thomas, too. Running back Mark Ingram touted the “legendary” ploy as worth the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for celebrating a prop.
“When your man does something like that, like legendary like that,” Ingram said, “the kickoff team gotta go cover.”
Lead Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman disagreed, saying on the broadcast that “this is too big of a game to be risking those kind of yards.”
Thomas told sideline reporter Erin Andrews he hoped to score late when his team led so he wouldn’t risk altering the game.
And Thomas wasn’t alone with the creative Saints touchdown celebrations Sunday. New Orleans tight end Benjamin Watson, after a 13-yard score in the second quarter, tucked the ball under his jersey.
Watson rubbed his stomach, raised his left hand waving five fingers, and then lifted one finger on his right hand followed by a second. The message: The father of five and wife Kirsten, who had miscarried recently, are expecting twins.
“Watson confirmed,” the Saints tweeted after the game. “Twins are on the way! What a way to announce.”
Watson said he looked to Kirsten celebrating.
“She was OK with my announcing,” he added. “Now everybody knows we’re about to be the Watson 7.”
Which celebration won out?
“I would say mine was seven times better,” Watson quipped.
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.