49-24 actually makes the game seem closer than it really was. To tell you the truth, I was happy with the 42-24 game, but with two minutes left on the clock Mark Ingram busted a 35 yard touchdown run and The Saints added insult to injury. I actually credit (in my personal box score) the officiating crew with 14 of the 24 Giants points. The ridiculous number of personal fouls called against the Saints was obscene and unwarranted. The "roughing the quarterback" call was bush league, the taunting call against Courtney Roby was ticky-tacky and the "hitting a defense-less receiver" was completely absurd. The Saints were called for a personal foul as the receiver and two defenders fell together out of bounds. As we Watched the game in the New Orleans Mercedes Benz Super Dome, it felt like the officiating crew was more interested in inserting themselves into the action than being an objective witness.
For those of us who've been watching football for most of their lives, the term "personal foul" seems to be kind of a joke. This is a game where grown (over grown) men get paid to where battle gear and run into each other at full speed. Scrums at the line of scrimmage are legally authorized fist fights with uppercuts and groin shots as a part of the unwritten rules. The entire game is a "personal foul". Men in tights clawing at each other and head-butting for three hours battling for field position using the skin of a pig. They use terms like "A-hole" and success is measured play by play in "downs" (as in take downs) as you try to "pound the rock" into the other teams end-zone.
As a Saints fan, I always feel like we're playing the apposing team and the officials. The assumption in the 80s, as we battled in the NFC West, was that Jerry Rice was perfect and our defense must have interfered with him. During the 90s, it was obvious that Dallas was perfect and the Saints must be cheating in some way to gain any advantage. 2000-2005...even though we had a quarterback that threw the ball backwards, some how we must have held someone or chop-blocked someone did something wrong. I thought those days were behind us. But, then there was Monday Night in The Dome. Almost as if the officiating crew was sent a memo to watch out for Eli Manning cause he was just a kid and couldn't be hit.
Here it is...I love football. I think it's bad ass! I played a little as a kid, but there came a time when I just wasn't enough of a glutton for punishment as the rest of the kids playing. The guys who've stuck with it and make a living at it are GLADIATORS! They are warriors! They are giants among men! I'm all for increasing safety for the players, but are we at the point when we might as well play two hand touch? Maybe the running backs and linemen ought to petition to keep tackling out of the game? It seems like they're the only guys with any risk of getting hurt. Receivers and quarterbacks have become off limits. Defenders have to tackle, but not by leading with their helmet. They have to tackle, but can't grab the back of the shoulder pads and they have to have body control and awareness to let up at the right time...usually within split seconds...or be called for a personal foul. Receivers can run wild in the secondary without a hand on them. Tuck rule....possession through the catch...football move...illegal hands to the face...hands to the helmet...there are a lot of rules out there and most of them seem to favor the offense. It's tough to be a defender in the NFL these days. Lots of rules...lots of rules...and you've got a job to do.
OK....I feel a lot better now...The Saints are 8-3 and in the hunt to take the #2 seed from the 49ers. The Giants had to fly back to New York banged up and reeling from 3 straight losses. I'm just a little tired of watching the NFL become two hand touch. I'm all for safety. I'm all for long term after-care for players. These guys deserve to be taken care of for their contribution to our gluttony for sport. But, at some point, you've just got to let 'em play!!