As in every NFL game there are some crucial moments. Never is this more apparent than in very close games like the one NFL tickets brought us last night between the New Orleans saints and the San Francisco 49ers. The background to this game is that the Saints are fighting to stay ahead of the Carolina panthers and keep pace with the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers are chasing those same Seahawks and losing put them 3 1/2 games back.
Within the game it sets up like this. New Orleans is down 17-20 and fighting to overcome some huge mistakes. But they’re still in it. Driving down the field, New Orleans is looking at 3rd down and 2 yards for a first. Ahmad Brooks breaks through the line and delivers a devastating blow to Drew Brees, forcing a fumble which San Francisco recovers. However, the hit is called illegal by the officials.
I’ve looked at this over and over. It appears to me that Brooks began with a fairly clean hit. Close, but clean. However as he continues, he obviously corrals Brees around the neck area and clotheslines him down to the ground. A good start but a bad finish. That kind of hit is going to get called in the NFL nowadays. We can all remember lesser hits that got a call. In this day and age when protecting the quarterback is paramount you have to be 100% clean when you sack a quarterback. Brooks made a great play but his finishing move is what did him in.
No doubt this was a pivotal play. New Orleans would tie the game on this drive with a 41-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley. Frisco got another cahnce but was stymied by the Saints defense and gave up the ball with enough time for Brees to wrk some magic. The 49ers also aided that drive by giving up 15 extra yards on a fair catch penalty. The bottom line. Frisco didn’t get robbed. What happened was within the rules laid out by the NFL. The 49ers had plenty of chances to win this thing given the generosity of the Saints. But with New Orleans shutting down their running game and Colin Kaepernick producing less than 200 yards through the air, the San Francisco 49ers have nowhere to look but at themselves.