So, the last time the 49ers were neck and neck with the Seattle Seahawks for control of the division, they had to go to New Orleans then too. It was not a happy ending.
Considering that the 49ers finish The Gauntlet this weekend in Louisiana, it’s probably appropriate to go to that fateful day where Ahmad Brooks made a play, and the NFL decided the Super Bowl should go through Seattle and not San Francisco.
The Saints have been a part of several great 49ers moments. Sure, the victims of The Catch parts 1 and 2 were instead handed to other stand-ins, but you could always count on the Saints being on the receiving end of some sort of 49er moment. There’s the comeback game with Joe Montana, where he dug the 49ers out of a 35-7 beating suffered against the Saints, scoring four unanswered touchdowns and destroying hopes and dreams in the process. There’s the even more awesome Catch III (or referred to as The Grab by some purists); not one to really be left out of all these named “Catches,” New Orleans decided to goad Harbaugh into really kicking them in the stomach during the 2011 NFL playoffs, and we all know how that ended. Believe me; there’s plenty of great moments that got 49ers fans all jacked up and Saints fans in the line at Best Buy on Monday to replace the TV they threw their shoe at.
Except for this story.
New Orleans also had a hand in one of the worst, whiniest, and most egregious calls in the history of the NFL. And the 49ers got to be the recipients. With 3:17 left, and Drew Brees doing what Drew Brees does (moving the ball down the field), this happened:
That’s Ahmad Brooks if you need him sacking Brees and causing a fumble the 49ers recovered. The turnover should have ended the game. The win would have (if you count all Win/Loss record after this game) given the 49ers home-field advantage through the playoffs.
Well, that’s not what happened. There was no fumble, and there was no party. Instead, there was a flag. A nice big yellow flag of joy thanks to those officiating biscuits that gifted the Saints 15 yards enough to swing things over and let them eventually win the game.
After the game, Drew Brees went on record to say he knew there was a flag coming, and since he’s one of those elite quarterbacks, he got one. To be fair, Brooks did re-adjust Brees’s neck, just not exactly the way the officials may have wanted it. Here’s the hit from another angle:
Of course, if you get these you gotta get the giraffe gif.
The loss sent the 12-4 49ers to the playoffs as a wildcard team (gee, imagine that) and on the road. They eventually lost in the NFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
It was a bad call. Should the 49ers have put the game away earlier? Yes. But the controversy that followed the call and who it benefited just supported the above narrative I spelled out. The call was, and still is, garbage. However, it’s things like this that then (and now) have given Seattle the “Luckiest Team Ever” moniker that we have been using.
The call was embarrassing for the league. And that’s not me saying it; they were ripping it apart the next night:
And before anyone comes in here and says it was the right call. Tells me it’s a different league and refs will throw the flag on that 100 percent of the time? I give you this video of the same thing happening a week later.
Gotta love that consistency.
Yeah, it’s been a few years, but the salt still rains. If there’s anything to be worried about this weekend, it’s some wacky ending like this that can have drastic effects on playoff seeding later if the 49ers run the table after this (which they did in 2013).
It’s a depressing memory, and it was a depressing game. But don’t worry, I do have a 2014 Saints/49ers ending which is much happier:
That’s another Brooks sack-fumble that the 49ers recovered with the officials intervening. There weren’t any playoffs to be decided if they did, though, so it’s not near as crucial as that 2012 blunder.
Have fun, everyone!