There’s an old maxim, ascribed to New York Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez back in the 1930’s when he declared “I’d rather be lucky than good.” This saying often applies to wagering on football and Sunday’s contest between the 49ers and Saints was a prime example. The Niners were a 10-point underdog in this one. For those of us backing that side, it felt quite good when they jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Then, with the score 10-3 midway through the second quarter, the worm turned.
Facing a 2nd and 10 at San Fran’s 21-yard line, defensive lineman Kentavius Street burst through protection and executed a picture-perfect sack of Drew Brees. Street wrapped up the opposing quarterback and made sure to keep his head to the side during this clean takedown. It was a 10-yard loss and a difficult 3rd and 20 awaited the Saints. Then, the yellow flag appeared. 15 yards for roughing the passer. What? No, wait. Can’t be. It was a textbook sack. But you can’t challenge such a call and the yardage was marked off. Now with a short field and a first down, New Orleans scored and tied the game. This was an incredulous call. Ex-NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz tweeted, “Well guys… we found it. The worst roughing the passer in NFL history.” Other chimed in with similar sentiment. We couldn’t agree more. If that was an infraction, you may as well not rush the passer. Not ever.
Things went downhill from there. The 49ers muffed two punts that led to 14 New Orleans’ points. Drew Brees was hurt on the aforementioned sack and missed the rest of the game. Jameis Winston replaced him. The Saints had a mere 123 yards passing on the day. Their top rusher had 57 yards on the ground. Hardly stats that would indicate a 14-point victory.
Just to pour salt on the many wounds suffered by San Francisco backers, QB Nick Mullens drove his team to New Orleans’ 18-yard line with just over two minutes to play. A touchdown and backdoor cover would have provided justice. Except Mullens threw an interception and that was that.
The Niners were the right play. The Saints took the money. Turns out that Lefty knew what he was talking about.
Nick Chubb received all sorts of accolades for running out of bounds at Houston’s 2-yard line, when he could have easily scored a touchdown with his team leading 10-7 and less than a minute to play. Cleveland bettors spotting 3½ or more weren’t happy. Houston supporters were elated. What’s shocking is that this was regarded by some to be classy. Some tweets claimed it to be brilliant. Truth is, it is neither. It is what should be expected. If he scores, the Browns are up 10 but their defence has to come on the field and protect the lead. They likely are able to (even though it’s the Browns) but by going out of bounds, Chubb secured a win as his offence only had to kneel down twice and the game was over.
Is the bar that low that this drew so much praise and attention? Cam Newton took a knee with two seconds to play with a 6-point lead over the Ravens. Bravo, Cam! See how silly that sounds?