I'm Pissed: Bears 39 Saints 14
- That field was unacceptable. There is a long history in football of the home team manipulating the field to their advantage. But come on. It's two thousand freakin' six. You know that if you live in Chicago that your field will be crap in December. Install some field turf and get it over with.
- The BeerMan DID NOT FUMBLE. He was losing the ball before he was down. Then he regained possession and his knee hit the ground. Then the Bears guy took the ball from him. THAT IS NOT A FUMBLE. I don't care if the guy dribbled the ball like a basketball before he was tackled. If he regained possession before his knee went down, there is no fumble.
- The Bears first accepted penalty did not occur until somewhere around halfway through the 4th quarter. I have a HUGE problem with that. Are you telling me that the Bears didn't do anything illegal for 3 1/2 quarters? They called illegal block on BeerMan's punt return in the 3rd quarter, but they missed 3 of them on Devin Hester's punt return in the first. Now they did call a hold on the Bears on an incomplete screen pass in the 3rd quarter. The penalty was declined because it was 4th down without the penalty. But on the same play, the refs completely missed an intentional grounding call. Nobody was near that pass. That cost the Saints about 10-15 yards of field position.
- I wouldn't have had a problem with the lack of penalties if the refs weren't calling bullsh&t offensive pass interference penalties on the Saints.
- Terry McAulay's crew has a history of incompetence. It also has a history of screwing over the Saints. Remember when the Saints played the Giants in the first NFL game in New York after 9/11? Terry McAulay's crew did that game too. The officiating sure looked that day like it was preordained that New York would win that game. The Saints were penalized 14 times that day, most of them in the first half (the Giants were penalized 11 times, mostly in the 2nd half). The Saints were also the victims of a pair of questionable booth decisions. I also remembered an incident in that game where Aaron Brooks was speared after a quarterback sneak was finished and the whistles had blown (and yet there was no unnecessary roughness penalty against the Giants). And when the Saints scored a potential game-winning touchdown on the last play of the game, the refs called, you guessed it, offensive pass interference to make sure it wouldn't happen. If the Saints tied and won that game in overtime, you wouldn't have had "heartwarming" stories like this. You'd think with 16 available referee crews, they could have found a better crew for an important game.
Okay. Now that I got that off my chest, let me point out that the Saints still could have won the game, but blew it in the 3rd quarter. In that quarter, two inexcusable things happened:
- The Saints "long field goal specialist" came up well short on a 47 yard FG. Wind was negligible. There's no excuse for that.
- Drew Brees was called for a safety. It was a safety fair and square, even without the Bears' lobbying. Her's my concern: if you know the Bears are coming after you on every down (like they were doing), why do you call a pass like that? Why was there no safety valve? It looked to me like Deuce was headed that way but never got there. Why was running never an option yesterday?
Then, after that, Rex Grossman finally realized that Fred Thomas was in the game, and that was all she wrote.
It was a great ride while it lasted. Thank you Saints for a great season. Right now I'm trying to be grateful that they went farther than any Saints team in history, but it's still hard. These chances to get to the Super Bowl don't come very often. Three of last year's final four teams (Steelers, Broncos and Panthers) didn't even make the playoffs next year. And with a division as competitive as the NFC South, there's no guarantee that the Saints will get back next year. You MUST take advantages of your opportunities when they're presented to you.
With that being said, I think this Saints team could be set up to be good for a long time. Brees is locked in. Bush, Evans and Colston were rookies. And the Saints defense had a good season in spite of having the worst cornerback in the NFL.
What are the keys to the Saints' success in 2007? Besides getting rid of Fred Thomas? In my opinion, they need to find a veteran cornerback or two in free agency. It would be a good idea to get a tight end or two as well. The draft could be used to get more depth at cornerback and tight end. In addition, I would like to see the Saints pursue a wide receiver, backup linebackers, an offensive lineman, a young backup quarterback, and a kicker in the draft too (or free agency). Then, do what they can to tie up Will Smith and Jammal Brown with long-term contracts. And as long as the coaching staff and front office stays pretty much the same, everything should be okay.
And now, depression sets in. Only one more meaningful football game, and the Saints aren't in it again. No more Saints games until August, and only free agency, the draft, and training camp to tide me over.
But I have rarely been so optimistic about the future of the Saints, on the field at least.
I was born a Who Dat, and I will die a Who Dat. It was seasons like this one that convince me that it's all been worth it.
And yet, I will be wearing a Colts jersey in 13 days.