I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the first person to complain about all of the botched calls in Sunday’s game.
Like you, I was incensed after that questionable roughing call on Malcolm Jenkins that extended a faltering Patriots drive. I begged for that timeout Drew Brees called exactly one millisecond before throwing an ill-advised pick in Saints territory. I seethed at the replay of a missed hold on Junior Galette on the deciding play and I would have sucker-punched a Foot Locker employee just for wearing stripes after the Patriots’ neutral zone infraction magically turned into a New Orleans false start.
No doubt the Saints fell victim to a very poorly officiated game that swung the momentum over to New England during the perfect times. You’re 100% correct when you say the referees affected this game in a negative way that hurt the team. But I’m hoping you will come to realize the same thing I did after some contemplation and an anticoagulant: none of those calls should have ever mattered.
Yeah, I said it.
Those referees should have never been anything more than fodder for next week’s edition of ‘Come On Man.’
But before you start the "Bring us, Barabbas" chant on me just hear me out. Despite the blown calls in Sunday’s game the Saints still had an opportunity to close out the win. And they didn’t.
Prior to New England’s final drive New Orleans’ defense had limited Tom Brady to just 160 yards passing with zero touchdowns. The pressure on Brady was relentless all day and the front seven rattled him from the opening gun. The D stepped up to the plate once again and delivered for 58 minutes of that game.
The offense was no slouch either, racking up a season-high 131 yards on the ground
and hitting on an explosive play through the air in the fourth quarter to put the team in front. It didn’t matter that Lance Moore was out and Jimmy Graham had as many catches as an inactive Rob Gronkowski. Brees still found a way to hit other targets while Pierre Thomas and Khyri Robinson pounded the rock up the middle with relative ease.
It was, by all accounts, a balancing act between the two sides of the ball. And one that failed when it needed to succeed most.
It’s why you can’t blame anyone other than the team for what happened Sunday. The Saints had every opportunity to rap the final nail in the coffin and simply couldn’t get it done.
The defense held the Patriots to a field goal after Brees’ interception and forced a three-and-out on the very next series. The offense orchestrated a masterful drive with less than ten minutes to go that ate considerable clock and ended with a magnificent touchdown catch by Kenny Stills to put the Saints in front. When Brady got the ball back once again, Keenan Lewis hauled in a pick on the first play from scrimmage that should have iced the game. It didn’t.
New Orleans sputtered on the ensuing drive but a Garrett Hartley field goal made it a touchdown-or-bust scenario for the Pats offense. Rob Ryan’s defense would have to hold. It didn’t.
That’s the abridged version that sums it right up. In the end, the best offense in football has to score touchdowns (not field goals) with the game’s outcome in doubt. And the defense (despite how well it played) has to buckle down and keep Brady out of the end zone with a victory in the balance.
The Saints had their fair share of mistakes and didn’t play perfect football by any means. Those bad calls didn’t help. But they did have a lead in the fourth quarter -- despite the adversity -- and failed to keep it. That’s on them. You can take it out on the offense for failing to put it out of reach. You can take it out on Brees for throwing a bad pick. You can take it out on Sean Payton and his play calling. You can even take it out on the defense for failing to make the final stop.
Whichever way you slice it, it still falls on someone wearing black and gold, not black and white.
This loss isn’t a huge deal. It’s a tough one to swallow but the team will learn from it and get better because of it. In the meantime, don’t make the referees your reason for it.
Ah, who am I kidding? You’re right. Screw ‘em.
More from Canal Street Chronicles:
- Saints vs. Patriots Player Grades: Offense
- New Orleans Loses 30-27 in Final Seconds with Tom Brady Touchdown Pass
- Saints vs. Patriots Preview and Matchup History: Drew Brees has Dominated New England During his Career
- Saints vs. Patriots: Scouting the Enemy
- Saints vs. Patriots: Ode to New England ("Brady Bunch" Parody)