The New Orleans Saints escaped with a 23-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after a last second field goal.
The most controversial moment was when Ahmad Brooks sacked Drew Brees with 3:20 remaining in the 4th quarter. Brooks caused a fumble that was recovered by Patrick Willis but was penalized for the hit on Brees as officials deemed it illegal.
It appeared that Brooks hit was clean at first as he came in with a “bear-hug” tackle at the chest area but followed through at the neck/head area which led to the flag. The Saints eventually hit a game tying field goal on that drive.
Per a league source, the NFL will be reviewing the penalty. They will be determining whether the hit was malicious and if any fines will be handed out. Brooks spoke to the media about his displeasure with the call saying that “football is watered down.”
According to current ESPN analyst Ray Lewis, he also strongly disagrees with the penalty. He even went on the record during a panel discussion offering to split the amount of fines with Brooks if he is indeed punished by the league. “I’ll tell you this, if they fine this kid, if they go on record and they fine this kid, Ahmad Brooks, I’ll gonna do something personally. I’m gonna pay half, ” he said.
The NFL should strongly reconsider reviewing penalties in-game with situations such as this one that has huge ramifications. If that flag was taken away the Niners would have been in control of the game and walked out with the victory.
Another big mistake that hurt the 49ers chances of a victory came when Kassim Osgood interfered with Darren Sproles on the punt return. Instead of starting at the 25 yard line the penalty brought them up to the 40 putting Brees in a much better position to march down the field and complete the game winning drive.
These mental errors killed the 49ers ultimately but these are mistakes that can easily be fixed by the coaching staff. A technically sound football team is very important in close games and that was made evident in the loss to the Saints.
Next week the 49ers look to end a 2 game skid when they face the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.