(Photo courtesy of New Orleans Saints)
By Ron Borges
Talk of Fame Network
To the Red Zone crowd, last Sunday’s 52-49 New Orleans Saints’ last-second victory over the New York Giants was pure excitement. To me, it was purely ridiculous.
Between them, the Saints and Giants scored 101 points, the third highest in NFL history. Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Eli Manning combined to throw for 861 yards and 13 touchdown passes, the latter breaking a 46-year-old NFL record. They passed for so many touchdowns that when it was finally over, and his arm was encased in an ice bucket, Manning asked a reporter, “How many did Drew and I throw for -- 13 or 14? I couldn’t keep up.’’
Manning couldn’t keep track. I couldn’t stand to watch.
Brees passed for 505 yards and finished the day 39-for-50, a 78.0 completion percentage. That’s not NFL football. That’s a 7-on-7 drill. It’s also a mockery of what football once was and should have remained.
At one point, Brees completed 18 straight passes, making him more accurate than an American sniper. But what was he throwing at? The Maginot Line?
The Giants’ defense couldn’t stop a runny nose with a carton of Kleenex. Then again, neither could the Saints. The reasons were more than their general ineptitude on defense. It’s that defense has been outlawed, and the fallout is everywhere.
No place has it hit harder than on the record books –which are now meaningless – and in the referees’ huddle, which have become ubiquitous. The NFL no longer knows what defense is. The officials don’t know what interference is ... except that they’ve been told it happens on every incompletion.
Officials also don’t know what a catch is … even after they watch it on replay for 15 minutes ... because everything is now supposed to be a catch even if the ball is rocking and rolling around in the receiver’s hands when he hits the ground.
It’s difficult to tell which is worse for the long-term health of the game: Endless offense or endless officiating errors. But here’s a suggestion to solve both problems: Maybe the NFL should consider allowing defense and outlawing officials?
Even after all those points and all those touchdown passes, in the end the Saints-Giants game was not decided by Drew Brees or Eli Manning. It was decided by an officiating corps wracked by indecision.
With 20 seconds to play and the game tied, in a stunning upset the Giants were forced to punt. On the return, Marcus Murphy fumbled, but the ball was recovered by a teammate who was then dragged down by his facemask. This was seen by everybody in the stadium with the exception, apparently, of those dressed in stripped shirts.
After a team meeting, the officials ruled no foul as the Superdome crowd roared, since everyone saw the infraction but the guys paid to see the infractions.
Wait a minute. Avon calling!
Someone clearly called those officials from the league office in New York to point out that macular degeneration would be the only valid excuse for making such a call. So they caucused again before reversing themselves, setting up the Saints’ game-winning, 50-yard field goal. The sight of confused officials huddling as if to shield themselves from an arctic breeze while defenses huddle on the sidelines like guys trying to read a road map in fading light has both become all-too familiar in today’s NFL.
Neither is a pretty sight.