The New Orleans Saints had the team’s most important game of the season in Week 14 and lost in a shootout in what will be the game of the year.
We saw everything in the New Orleans Saints-San Francisco 49ers showdown in Week 14. We saw fake punts, double-reverse passes and a whole lot of Taysom Hill. What we didn’t see was great defense, as the two teams combined to score 94 points in a 48-46 Saints’ loss.
We also saw two costly penalties that lost this game for the Saints, one being much more impactful than the other. A no-call on the fake punt attempt wrapped up a trio of penalties that ended up losing the game for the Saints.
The first was the non-call on the fake punt. Tre’Quan Smith was held on a fake-punt pass attempt from Taysom Hill and no flag was thrown. You would figure with the new pass interference challenge rules that the Saints would be righted, they weren’t.
More from Big Easy Believer
- New Orleans Saints: Three biggest questions heading into the offseason
- New Orleans Saints: Three positives to take from playoff loss
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide vs. Sacramento Kings
- New Orleans Saints: Bold predictions for Wild Card Round vs. Vikings
- New Orleans Pelicans: Betting guide in Los Angeles Lakers rematch
You cannot challenge defensive holding, which is what the penalty would have been. The Saints turned over the ball on downs, which lead to a go-ahead touchdown for the 49ers.
In that ensuing 14-play, 55-yard drive, the Saints committed a penalty that was correctly called and cost the team the lead.
On third and eight at the 14 yard-line, Jimmy Garoppolo scrambled on a broken play, escaped pressure and attempted to hit fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson hit Juszczyk in the head as he went to the ground and picked up an unnecessary roughness call that gave the 49ers a first down and an eventual touchdown.
There is some debate on this play. The referees called the penalty correctly, Gardner-Johnson led with his shoulder to Juszczyk’s head. However, some are arguing that Juszczyk milked the hit and that Gardner-Johnson had nothing else he could have done.
Juszczyk did milk the hit and it would have been hard for Gardner-Johnson to fully stop his momentum and not hit Juszczyk. However, the NFL has had these rules for several years now, it is hard to make an excuse for Gardner-Johnson.
Finally, Marcus Williams committed a face mask penalty on a fourth and two pass to George Kittle that went 38 yards. While the 49ers still would have been in Saints’ territory, they would have been at the 28 instead of the 14.
The 49ers ended up kicking the field goal at the 12-yard line, only gaining two yards. If we assume that they only gained two from the 28 then they Robbie Gould would have had to attempt a 43-yard kick instead of a 30-yard kick.
Gould is 2-8 in field goals longer than 40 yards this season, his longest on the year is 47. The chances of him missing the kick would have been exponentially higher.
So there were three calls: two against the Saints, which were called correctly, and one no-call, which could have changed the tide of the entire game.
Now the New Orleans Saints have some work to do to get a first-round bye in the playoffs.