49ers vs. Saints 2013: Should Ahmad Brooks have been flagged for hit on Brees?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

A costly personel foul gave the Saints new life as they rallied to beat the 49ers on Sunday evening, fueling controversy around the internet about whether the flag should have been thrown.

The New Orleans Saints kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to rally past the San Francisco 49ers, 23-20, in a thrilling yet controversial game between two of the NFC's top teams.

While there were plenty of story lines to discuss following the game, it is the late personal foul call against the Niners that has been the hot topic around the league.

Facing a third-and-two from the San Francisco 35 with 3:12 remaining and down 20-17, Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sacked by Ahmad Brooks for a 10-yard loss that would have resulted in a fourth-and-12. Instead, Brooks was flagged for delivering a blow to the head or neck area of the quarterback and the Saints were given a first down at the 30. They would hit a game-tying field goal four plays later.


David Fuccillo at Niners Nation admits the play was close at full speed and doesn't hold it against the refs for calling the penalty, but points out that Brooks struck Brees low around the shoulders, not the neck.

On this slow-motion replay it looks to me like a legal hit. I know plenty will disagree and have disagreed, but this strikes me as a football play. It's not like a clear-cut clothesline at the neck or a blow to the head. This does not seem to me to be the kind of play these rules have been created to protect against.

Dave Cariello of Canal St. Chronicle is torn over whether the penalty should have been called.

As bad as the hit may have looked on TV, it looked even worse from my seat in the Superdome. Drew never sees the it coming or has a chance to protect himself. I really can't believe he walked away unscathed. Brees even busted his mouth on the play.

But does any of that make the hit illegal? Did it just look worse than it really was? There's no initial contact to the head or face. Brooks does have his arm wrapped around his neck and is bringing Brees down however.

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