In a heart-breaking loss in which the San Francisco 49ers (6-4) lost to the New Orleans Saints (8-2) in a dramatic 23-20 game, it was the NFL officiating that ultimately decided the outcome. An officiating crew that allowed grabbing of the 49ers jersey’s by the home team while providing a favorable spot on a crucial third-down play, the game ball goes to the officiating crew.
A number of non-calls starting in the first-quarter that saw WR Jon Baldin abused 25 yards down the field by Saints CB Jabari Greer on a 3rd and 10, it was the refs that did nothing to even the playing field. A play in which Greer was injured, why wasn’t a flag thrown? An injury that occurred due to Greer using Baldwin’s momentum to high point the ball, he then fell awkwardly on his left leg as he is clearly not used to handling that type of vertical. As NFL analyst Troy Aikman said:
Yep. There’s the pull on the jersey.
I’m not saying that the refs should get every call correct as we are all human. However, when a player’s jersey is tugged and stretched out right in front of your eyes, you would think a flag would result. That was not the case and the 49ers lost their first opportunity to extend the drive.
As if that was not bad, then maybe this call was. With 1:28 left in the first-quarter, Saints TE Jimmy Graham tried to get past the markers on 3rd and 2, which did not happen. However, line judge No. 130 (who made horrible calls the whole game) gave him the first-down despite not being parallel to the marker. In addition, 49ers ILB Patrick Willis, NT Glenn Dorsey, and SS Donte Whitner were all seen screaming at the line judge to review the spot, but he turned the other cheek. The next play resulted in a Saints touchdown as they drew first blood.
After those two plays, I knew the 49ers were up against not only the Saints but the officiating crew as a whole. With 13:31 left in the fourth-quarter, Davis was blatantly held on 3rd and 9 by S Rafael Bush. Aikman thought a flag would ensue, saying:
There was definitely a grab there by the right hand. Vernon Davis was wanting a flag.
However, no flag was thrown and as a result the 49ers had to settle for a K Phil Dawson field-goal. And if you wondered why a non-call was made it was because line judge No. 130 Darryll Lewis blew yet another obvious penalty.
If you are counting that’s three plays that should have gone the 49ers way, but it didn’t. And just so you know, Lewis was a former NFL cornerback that played for the Houston Oilers, San Diego Chargers, and Denver Broncos. So there may be some bias there from a defensive perspective.
But the play of the game had to go to the refs, as 49ers OLB Ahmad Brooks laid a legal hit on QB Drew Brees resulting in a fumble recovery by Willis that would seal the game. However, the refs intervened and said, “Wait a minute, the Saints must win the game,” and not only took away the the big play but penalized Brooks for the hit. My question to the officiating crew is this, if that’s the case why didn’t Kaepernick get a face-mask penalty a few drives earlier? A furious head coach as Jim Harbaugh said:
That’s bull crap!
I rarely rant, but the fact is, the refs won the game! Not the Saints, it was the refs! The game-plan by the coaching staff was exceptional, and despite 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick throwing an ill-advised interception, he had a solid game as he completed 17 of 31 for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
As for the Niners defense, they played lights out in my opinion while rarely giving up the big play. Led by Niners All-Pro ILB NaVorro Bowman as he finished with 15 tackles (one for loss), it was not enough as the Saints eventually prevailed.
With the 49ers losing back-to-back games for the second time this season, they will need to shake this loss off as they face the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.