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Ben Burns: Bad Beats January 26th

Bad Beats: Even Saints fans can admit Vikings got hosed

Ben Burns

Ben Burns

My name is David Payne. I write for Ben Burns. I lived in New Orleans for 10 years before Hurricane Katrina blew me East. I am a diehard Saints fan. The Vikings were the better team and deserved to win.


Minnesota outgained the Saints 475-257. The Vikings had 31 first downs to the Saints 15. They had nearly 100 more rushing yards. They were 7 of 12 on third downs. The Saints were 3 of 12.

Of course, Minnesota’s statistical domination was washed away by five disastrous turnovers. Two of the Vikings’ three lost fumbles came inside the Saints’ 10 yard line. The other came inside their own 10.

And then there was Brett Favre being Brett Favre. The NFL all-time interception leader added two more, including one that could be the last attempt of his career.

It was a game full of twists, turns and bad calls.

The Saints had two controversial personal foul penalties go against them. In the first quarter, end Bobby McCray was called for a personal foul after clobbering Favre, who handed the ball off to Percy Harvin. The play had bootleg action, which the Vikings featured throughout the game. After handing the ball off, Favre headed down the line toward McCray, who was pursuing Harvin from the backside. McCray hit Favre so bad the veteran quarterback reportedly thought his teeth had been knocked out. But Favre was in the path to the ball carrier, in effect a blocker, albeit a non-interested one. What was McCray supposed to do? And, again, the play was designed to have bootleg action, with Favre pretending to keep the ball on a rollout pass.

Later in the first half, Vikings punt returner Darius Reynaud waved for a fair catch, but muffed a punt at his own 32. He went down on one knee to pick up the loose ball and sat there. Saints special team Jonathan Casillas tackled Reyaud and was called for a personal foul. Once Reynaud muffs the punt, the fair catch is negated and the ball is live. Reynaud is not down just by kneeling down, and needs to be touched. Any time there’s a loose ball bodies fly in, even if it looks like a recovery has been secured. Why was this play any different?

But, without question, when the game was on the line late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, nothing went the Vikings’ way.

Here are the four biggest moments that sent the wrong team to the Super Bowl and turned golden Vikings moneyline tickets into piss-yellow cigarette papers.

4. Too many men in the huddle: We don’t praise coaches enough when their teams execute properly with time running out in a close game.

We certainly don’t have to worry about that with Brad Childress.

With the game tied at 28, the Vikings had moved into position for a winning field goal and faced a 3rd-and-10 at the Saints’ 33 with 19 seconds to play. One more run would seemingly put kicker Ryan Longwell, who had made his last eight attempts from 50 yards or more, comfortably inside his range.

But, after a timeout, the Vikings were called for having 12 men in the huddle, pushing them back five yards.

In Childress’ mind, it significantly changed the play call. “I would’ve run it again [without the penalty],” he told reporters after the game.

Instead, he called a play that ended up costing him a shot to win the game.

3. Questionable 4th-down spot: In overtime, the Saints faced a 4th-and-inches just inside the Vikings 43.

The Saints went for it, sending Pierre Thomas off tackle. Thomas leaped over the pile and, at first glance, appeared to have the first down. The officials didn’t even measure.

However, replays showed Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, who met Thomas in the air right at the first down marker, actually knocked the ball back into Thomas’ midsection with his helmet.

The play was reviewed and not overturned.

It was close, but the replay provided a great look. The first down marker on the sideline is at the very far edge of the 42 yard line. While Thomas may have initially advanced the ball to that point, his forward progress is negated when the ball is dislodged. At the point he regains possession and hits the ground, it doesn’t appear he reached the far edge of the 42.

2. Awful pass interference call: The Saints hadn’t moved the ball at all in the fourth quarter and weren’t exactly marching right down the field in overtime. Drew Brees was throwing ducks and the Saints’ receivers were having hands issues. The Saints looked like they were feeling the pressure.

But, aided by a defensive holding call, they had managed to get into Viking territory. One play after picking up the questionable fourth down and were at the Viking 42, Brees lobbed a pass toward tight end Dave Thomas. The pass was overthrown and had both Thomas and Viking linebacker Ben Leber scrambling to turn around and the find the ball.

There was very little, if any, contact, and the pass sailed over Thomas’ head. But pass interference was called, giving the Saints 15 yards they needed to put kicker Garrett Hartley in his range.

While Leber did not get his head turned around to locate the ball, he wasn’t face guarding, and the pass could have easily been ruled uncatchable. There were more reasons not to throw a flag than there was to make that call at such a crucial stage in the game.

1. Favre being Favre: You cannot make that play. It’s the cardinal sin for quarterbacks, throwing across your body over the middle, but especially when you are in a situation to have an opportunity to win the game as long as you don’t turn it over or take a sack.

After the Vikings were called for too many men on the field, Childress went with a rollout pass. It wasn’t a bad call by any means.

The 12 men in the huddle flag push them back to the Saints’ 38, making the field goal a 55-yarder. So you’re looking to get a few yards to help your kicker out, while being safe with the ball. Clearly, even at the most crucial times in the biggest games, Favre thinks he’s better than that.

He rolled out to his right, approached the line of scrimmage, and, with running room in front of him, decided to throw back across the middle where Tracy Porter picked it off.

NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin said it wasn’t a bad decision, and most announcers downplayed Favre’s error, saying the Vikings made plenty of earlier errors that were also costly.

But Favre’s decision single-handily took away an opportunity to win the game as time expired.

If he throws it away or slides down, Longwell still has a chance. “In pregame, we hit from 53 [yards], but those were all hitting the net, which is 7, 8 yards back,” Longwell told reporters.

But that’s why Brett Farve is Brett Favre, and Saints fans love him for it.

Who had the Knicks?

Who’s man enough to admit you took the Knicks +1 against the Mavericks Sunday? C’mon, one of you had to have pounded the home-dog Knickerbockers against a Jason Kidd-less Dallas squad.

Hopefully, those of you were on the Knicks will be able shake off the 50-point drubbing your just took. The 128-78 loss was New York’s worst home loss ever and the franchise’s second worst loss ever.

“”They took our heart out of us,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni told the media.

When’d the Knicks get that?

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  1. Games of this magnitude are usually won by the team who made the least mistakes as numbers really do not mean anything other than on the scoreboard.
    The better team won on Sunday because they executed their game plan without committing any costly mistakes. It is hard to say the Vikings were the better team when they couldn’t even count to eleven at one of the most crucial times of the game.