And also because that one guy grabbed that other guy's neck, I guess.
Here's a quick and dirty review of what happened Sunday afternoon.
- Late in the first half, the Saints were trailing by 10 but driving in Patriots territory with an opportunity to pick up at least 3 points and head into halftime behind by one score. On the New England 38, the Saints lined up to go for a 4th and 1. Several Patriots jumped offsides when Drew Brees gave them a hard count. For a moment, many Saints fans were pleasantly amazed that this ploy actually worked for the second consecutive week. But then we realized the call had gone against the Saints for no defensible reason.
Fox officiating analyst Mike Periera agreed via Twitter: "Should have been a neutral-zone infraction in New England. NZI (neutral zone infraction) rule. Defense jumps in NZ causing a reaction by the offense. That is what happened there in my opinion. Easy to see on replay."The Patriots weren't able to take advantage before the half petered out so the blown call didn't swing the game as badly as it could have. But it was annoying. We might have let it go at that but..subsequent matters compounded the annoyance.
- During the third quarter, the Saints got the running game going for what we'll say was for all practical purposes the first time this season. Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson rushed for a combined for 45 yards of a 67 yard 9 play drive that tied the game up at 17.
- At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Saints very nearly let the play clock expire before a 3rd and 12 at their own 13. That would have sucked so Drew Brees called for a timeout. For no defensible reason, though, no official blew his whistle to stop the play. The ball was snapped. Brees shuffled about in half disbelief that the play was live and then weakly.. stupidly, really... chucked the ball up in the direction of Jimmy Graham who was himself limping towards the sideline. The ball was intercepted. It was maybe the dumbest thing we've seen all year that did not involve Greg Schiano.
- It should be noted that the Saints' defense won this game two times in the final three and a half minutes. They stopped the Patriots on downs while defending a one point lead. They picked the ball off while defending a four point lead. But the Saints did such a poor job of draining the clock the defense was asked to win the game a third time. Rob Ryan's charges have far exceeded everyone's expectations this season but this was maybe asking a bit much.
The Patriots' subsequent possession hinged on a 2nd and 6 from their own 37 when Malcolm Jenkins delivered a vicious but clearly legal hit to separate Kenbrell Tomkins from the ball. Jenkins led with his shoulder and the brunt of the blow was not directed at Tomkins's head. Jenkins was flagged for unnecessary roughness for no defensible reason.
Some questioning the hit across the middle in New England, It was a shoulder to the chest. No head or neck contact. Not a foul.
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 13, 2013
The penalty set the Patriots up in Saints territory. They went on to get a go-ahead field goal. Again, the blown call could have resulted in something worse. But it was annoying. We might have let that go but, not long afterwards, Darren Sproles received an actual blow to the head on a similar play which was not called at all.
Also, subsequent matters compounded the annoyance.
Thankfully, the Patriots only got a field goal out of it. Plus, despite the weird no timeout call by the ref, the boneheaded turnover was clearly Brees's fault. (Mostly.. probably.) But it could have been worse. Still, it was annoying.
And, of course, subsequent matters compounded the annoyance.
It's especially much to ask when the other team is allowed to cheat. See the photo at the top of this post... OR you can stay where you are and watch this GIF (via CSC).
You can clearly see Junior Gallette's head go back and to the left. Back and to the left. Back and to the.. So look, that's pretty freaking annoying, right? And this time, we can't say anything nice about the situation. No way this one could have been worse. That indefensible call cost the Saints the game.
But that's not what history will record. Instead what we'll read on Monday is the Saints lost because Tom Brady is a hero. A magical hero, even.
The Patriots won a game they should have lost for one reason and one reason only: Brady magic struck again, just like it has so many times over these past 13 years. Brady always gives New England a chance to win. He always is a threat, no matter who Brady has -- or doesn't have -- playing receiver. Brady is that kind of player who can lift an entire offense, an entire team, onto his shoulders and make them better.*Gag*
Last week, SB Nation's Jon Bois created a helpful tool for us in this situation. He called it the Quarterback Internet Hate Index:
Our perceptions of NFL quarterbacks sort of fascinates me, so I decided to create a metric known as the Quarterback Internet Hate Index. It's rather elementary and inexact, and statisticians might shake their heads upon seeing how I've created it, but I think it's at least reasonably indicative of two things:The index measures internet searches for a given quarterback's name followed by the word, "sucks" against a statistical measure of that QB's "value" designed by Pro Football Reference.
1. What we think of these quarterbacks, and
2. How right or wrong we are.
What's interesting about the graph Bois creates is Robert Griffin III and Russel Wilson are at opposite extremes of the "sucks" / "doesn't suck" opinion axis. And yet they are basically the same type of player and have performed at comparable levels.
We can say this demonstrates the degree to which athletes are valued according to... a sort of Q rating... as much as they are their athletic talent. This is especially true for quarterbacks.
And it says something about the relative crankiness of various fan bases. Griffin plays in a division where all of the teams have a high media profile and whose fan bases tend to be especially caustic. So the "hate" he gets is more a product of the scrutiny he comes under than it is his actual performance.
Tom Brady doesn't receive quite the level of hate (as measured by Bois, anyway) as Griffin does but he's clearly in the top, right (good stats but lots of hate) quadrant. And Brady plays on a high-profile team so, like Griffin, he gets a lot of attention.
The primary reason Tom Brady is as hated as he is by fans, though, is this. Far too often, Brady is the beneficiary of officiating such as was in evidence on the last play of Sunday's game. That alone would be annoying. But then when we have to read ESPN hacks describe these results as "Tom Brady magic," well that just plain sucks. Sunday the legend of Brady's suckitude grew by one game. Too bad it came at the Saints' expense.
Update: This tweet from Cliff was supposed to have gone into this post somewhere.
No one is going to care about the officiating when the Saints lose. We beat Brett Favre and they changed overtime....SMH
— Clifton Harris (@Clifton611) October 14, 2013