Monday, February 18, 2019

No halo for Saints

I just watched a replay of the Saints/Rams game that caused such a brouhaha.

For those who need a reminder, with a little more than a minute and a half to go the Saints had the ball in field goal range.  The score was tied.  A field goal would put the Saints up by three points.  The Rams had two time outs remaining.

What happened is that on the Saints drive there was a blatant pass interference call that was not made. Had the play been called correctly, the Saints would have won the game and played in the Super bowl instead of the Rams. 

The Saints and their fans, then, and since then, have squawked about the injustice. A lawyer for season ticket holders sued the NFL and requested the game be replayed from the time of the missed call.

Any fan who is not biased knows how absurd that request is.  If it were honored, then any team could find any play during a game where a call was missed, and request that the game be replayed from that time.

But that is not the point of this blog.  I have written some and taught some about what makes a positive culture on a team and why some teams with less talent than others, prevail, while teams who are loaded with skilled players sometimes are unsuccessful.  The Saints squawking after the game is evidence of why the Saints lost, not the bad call.  It makes sense to squawk during the game, but after the game you take your lumps, especially given some particulars that I saw again, as I watched the game on tape this evening.

When the Saints had the ball with over 90 seconds left, they threw a pass that was incomplete.  It was a dumb play because it saved the Rams one of their timeouts.  Then they ran a play which went nowhere, and the Rams called a timeout. Then inexplicably they threw again. This was the play where the referee clearly made the error.

But why did they throw at all? If they ran it three times, then the Rams would have gotten the ball, behind three with 50 seconds left tops and no timeouts.  Game pretty much over. 

As it was, the Rams got the ball back with about 80 seconds left with a time out.  Then, the Saints played lousy defense allowing the Rams to get into field goal range to tie the game. In fact, had the quarterback for the Rams not gotten the heebie jeebies, the Rams would have won the game in regulation by scoring a touchdown. He got nervous and threw to the wrong guy, so the Rams had to settle for a field goal.

Okay, overtime. 

Folks, the Saints won the toss.  Just like the Patriots did in their overtime game. The Saints won the toss. The ball was in their hands. A trip to the Super bowl in their hands.What do they do?

First down, a scaredy cat pass that is knocked down at the line of scrimmage.  Then, a run that went nowhere. And then, in the mascara call of all time, the Rams are called for pass interference for contact that would have not derailed my grandmother.  A mascara call in the jargon of sports is one that is a "make up" for a prior missed one. So because of this make up call the Saints are on the Rams side of the 50.

The next play is a bizarre run that goes backwards. This is a championship team, not. Then Brees throws a pass worthy of an intramural game. It is a dying duck that is intercepted. The Rams get the ball and move the ball sufficiently to win the game on the field goal. The Rams go to the Super bowl.

Saints start to cry.

The reason a team is a loser is because they don't acknowledge their complicity in losses, but blame someone else.  Yes, that call would have given the Saints a sure thing. But how many calls were bad all game long. And the Saints still had a chance to win in regulation, took the lead, and then relinquished it. And then they threw that duck in overtime.

Suck it up Saint fans. 

When the Patriots lost to the Dolphins on a last second miracle play, I was in the stands in Miami. I could not believe how the Dolphins won that game.  I was eager to hear what the Patriots players and coaches had to say. What they said was that the Dolphins made one more play than they did.  They did not say it was a fluke, even though it was a fluke.  They took the hit for the loss.

The only way the Saints grow is to acknowledge that they, not the refs, lost the championship game with a combination of knucklehead calls by the coach, poor defense, and a lame duck interception.

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