Scoot:  Respect between Saints and 49ers fans made the loss easier to deal with

December 09, 2019 - 1:01 pm

Anticipation was through the roof, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was LOUD, and the Saints sliced through the tough 49ers defense and Drew Brees connected to TE Jared Cook for a touchdown and the Saints led the 49ers 7 – 0.

When the 49ers came right back and tied the score 7 – 7, everyone could sense it was going to be a game defined by offense and not defense.

At the final 2:00 warning, the 49ers led 45 – 42.  Brees went to WR Michael Thomas then to WR Ted Ginn, Jr. and then a pass interference call against the 49ers  - and with 1:00 remaining, the Saints were inside the 49ers 20 yard line.  Then Brees to WR Tre’Quan Smith who busted through the 49ers defense and hit the end zone.  The Saints 2-point conversation was no good, and the Saints led the 49ers 46 – 45 with :53 left in the game.

The Saints defense put the 49ers offense in a 4th and 2 situation with :39 left.  QB Joe Garappolo connected with TE George Kittle, who ran like a beast over the Saints secondary and with the help of a face mask penalty against the Saints – the 49ers were at the 14-yard line with :29.  Moments later, with :03 left in the game – the 49ers kicked a game-winning field goal and 49ers beat the Saints 48 – 46.

As disappointing as the loss was to Saints fans – everyone had to admit that it was an exciting game to watch.  There was chatter between Saints fans and the many 49ers fans who painted much of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in red yesterday, but it was in the spirit of a competitive game.  I had 49ers fans all around me at the game yesterday and I got a sense that the two fan groups have great respect for each other.  Some teams bring fans to New Orleans that don’t respect the Saints or their fans and honestly, Saints fans don’t like or respect the visiting fans from some teams.  But before, during and after the game – the exchanges I witnessed between Saints fans and 49ers fans were spirited, but reflected the general respect the two groups of fans have for each other.

After the game, Coach Sean Payton and many of the players made no excuses for the loss to the 49ers and admitted that they could have done a better job on both sides of the ball.

Once again, the integrity of NFL officiating came into question with the decided edge going to the 49ers, which is something Saints fans have come to expect.  The no-call on the fake punt, when 49ers free safety Tarvarius Moore was holding and touching Saints WR  Tre’Quan Smith like they were a couple in love slow dancing at a prom – first appeared to be another blatantly biased decision by the officials – but in NFL rules, there is no protection for a receiver during a fake punt.  This seems to be an incredibly ridiculous rule because if teams are allowed to fake a punt and if passing the ball is an option within NFL rules – then what is the justification for not providing protection for a receiver?  The NFL should change that rule immediately.

The Saints offense scored 46 points, and with a highly acclaimed defense, one would think that Saints would have won the game.  The Saints defense was ill prepared for the sweeps and reverse hand-offs and pitches that sent players with speed flying around the ends and turning the corner to gain yardage.  But the defense did not step up in the end.

When Drew Brees was injured and the Saints “stepped up” on both sides of the ball, one could only wonder if they Saints did that after Brees returned they would be unbeatable.  The Saints defense did not “step up” yesterday and there were times the offense did not “step up” either.  Following their loss to the Ravens the week before, the 49ers stepped up with game in a most hostile environment and beat the Saints.

But the Saints are 10 – 3 and have clinched the NFC South, but there are important games still to come and the goal for the Saints is to “step up” like the team did when Brees was MIA.

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