If you didn't watch any football this past Sunday...congratulations! I can assure you that you really didn't miss much.
But even if you didn't have anything better to do and ended up sitting through a veritable revolving door of mediocrity, you might not have caught much of the matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. Two NFC teams who have been fairly up-and-down this year likely didn't move the needle for too many Patriots fans.
One play from that game, though, is for sure worth discussing, as if it had been the Patriots who did this it would be national news this morning. With the Saints leading 28-20 with less than ten seconds left in the first half and one timeout, New Orleans faced a 1st and 10 from the SF 13 yard line - enough for one, maybe two shots at the end zone before the field goal unit would take the field to close out the half. Brees took the snap, looked to his right for the open man, hesitated, and then ended up throwing the ball into the ground as the clock stopped at four seconds to go.
Flags flew from everywhere. Defensive holding on the 49ers, five yards and an automatic first down. With only four seconds left, New Orleans had no choice but to attempt a FG instead, lest they leave points on the field.
You can look at the play here - holding couldn't have been more blatant. It wasn't so much a series of holds as the DB straight up mugged the Saints receivers. And why not? You can't put time back on the clock, and five yards from that distance wasn't going to make a lick of difference when it came to field goals. What a brilliant call by Chip Kelly. Just a smart manipulation of the rules as they are written and a great bit of coaching.
Remember, stuff like this is only a disgrace to the game when Bill Belichick does it. If he had had his cornerbacks deliberately hold to force a late field goal, Brady would probably be sitting out another four games right now. There would be an entire block of time on all the networks dedicated to the Patriots once again pushing the rulebook to the limit. Never mind that what took place on Sunday against the Saints was smart, heads-up coaching and an effective usage of the rules as they are written; if the Patriots do it, it's a travesty. But since it isn't the Patriots, it was lauded (correctly) as brilliant and nobody is going to hear about it for the rest of the year. The only reason I'm bringing it to everyone's attention now, other than to point out the hypocrisy there, is to give credit where credit is due; thinking outside the box is what good coaches do to win, so well done to Coach Kelly trying to get the W any way that he can.