This past Sunday fans and sports talking heads alike were in an uproar over the missed pass interference call late in the game. That missed call MAY have caused the Saints to lose the game.
So everyone is clear . . . I am not a Saints fan. I grew up in Denver and bleed orange and blue. I now live in Atlanta and support my home team, hence my opinion of the Saints. I also am a mostly retired flag football ref, having officiated for almost 30 years and well over 600 games.
Throughout the game there were MANY mistakes, and for this story, am only going to focus on the Saints mistakes. Drew Brees had a 65% completion rate and averaged 6.2 yards per catch against the Rams. Those were almost 10% points below his season average of 74.4% and 3 yards less than his season average of 8.2 yards per catch.
Rushing, the Saints had a season average of 122.8 yards per game. Against the Rams, just 48 yards. Total offense, averaged 376.5 yards per game during 2018, vs. Rams, 290. The Saints averaged 30.4 points per game during the season; 23 vs. the Rams.
The Rams gave up an average of 5.9 yards per play during the 2018 season. They limited the Saints to 4.5 years per play.
Cars vs. Airplanes
In 2017 (last year stats are available) there were 37,133 people killed in car accidents. There were 44 people killed via plane incidents in 2017. Yet it is a news story when there is a death via aircraft.
Because they are so infrequent? More dramatic?
So how does this relate?
There were a total of 132 plays during the game, 68 by the Rams and 64 by the Saints. No one is talking about play #32 when the Rams completed a fake punt, on 4th & 6, picked up 12 yards and eventually led to a field goal, potential momentum changer. Or plays #44 and 45 when Brees was sacked on back-to-back plays that lead to a punt and a Rams touchdown.
Those are car accidents.
No, everyone is talking about play #111, when an NFL official somehow missed an obvious and blatant pass interference call.
The plane crash.
Throughout the game, on both offense and defense, there were lots of car accidents. Plays that we have become numb to, part of the game. A sack, a blown coverage, a missed tackle, an interception. But when the unusual happens, it becomes the story.
Should that have been a pass interference call? Absolutely. No doubt. 100%. And who knows what would have happened next. Yes, the Saints might have run out the clock, scoring the winning field goal or touchdown in the final few seconds. They also might have thrown a pick-6. We will never know.
What I do know is that games are full of individual events, in this game 132 of them. These are men making hundreds-of-thousands of dollars or even millions per game. Drew Brees will make $27 million this year, including the pre and postseason, that is about $1.3 million per game. The Saints ran 61 offensive plays (there were 3 field goals were Brees was not on the field). Which means that Drew made about $21,300 PER PLAY.
The NFL Officials on the field, on average, make about $205,000 per year, or about $9,300 per game if you include 4 pre-season and 2 post-season games. Which means that while Drew made $21,000 per play, these officials made about $70 per play.
I don’t condone what happened. NFL officials are well paid and trained to make those calls.
But NFL players are paid SUBSTANTIALLY more to: Throw. Catch. Run. Tackle. Kick. Block. And in this game, the Saints didn’t perform up to their season averages. In fact, in passing and rushing, they well under-performed.
So while we are focused on the “plane crash”, most of the damage was done in small doses throughout the game, all of those individual car accidents.