…what an uncomfortable game, with undesirable outcome. San Diego looked pretty good against the Saints, but in the final quarter, the game officials had an alternative agenda, favoring New Orleans. Multiple “home town” penalties seemed to outweigh reality, in favor of the win-less Saints. There were several questionable calls against the Chargers that made fans nauseous and grumble in disappointment (in remembrance of the old replacement refs). The calls (and non-calls) made me question a possible “fixed outcome” of the game.
Sure, the Melvin Ingram personal foul was valid (roughing the quarterback) and was the correct call, but how untimely was that penalty (taking away a Chargers interception). Ingram led with his helmet and hit Drew Brees right smack in the chin which is an instant penalty.
The Phillip Rivers interception was a horrible non-call. Rivers intended target Malcom Floyd was hit in the back before the ball arrived causing the ball to get tipped into the air, causing the turnover. It was a very close play (and possibly missed), but it was pass interference and should have been called pass interference, not an interception.
The Antonio Gates offensive pass interference call was a mystery and a phantom penalty. Gates was called for pushing the defenders hands off him, which is not a penalty. If anything, it should have been call illegal contact on the Saints, resulting in an automatic first down for San Diego.
The very next play was a ticky-tack holding penalty on center Nick Hardwick, eliminated a 25 yard Rivers to Floyd pass and catch. Then the next play was another flag on the Saints with illeagle hands to the face, automatic 1st down.
And with the finale turnover/strip: Chargers Left Tackle Jared Gaither (2nd game back, returning from a back injury and missed all of training camp) was not able to move well (due to stiffness, cramps, suggested groin pull) and Saints defensive end Martez Wilson knew something was wrong. Like a shark and with blood in the water, Martez Wilson blew by the stiff Gaither forcing a Rivers strip/fumble and Saints recovery, ending the game with 14 seconds on the clock, 3rd down on the Saints 33 yard line. In fact, fans watch knew Gaither was injured as television commentator Chris Collinsworth said before the play, to watch Gaither, something is wrong with him. “Gaither looks lame.”
Gaither should have been removed the play prior, since Gaither whiffed on another Wilson block (which hit Rivers after an incomplete pass). Gaither was clearly wounded, yet he could NOT go down with an injury as San Diego would have been charged their final timeout (with the NFL under two minute injury timeout rule). Either way, Rivers turned the ball over and ended the game, with an unused San Diego timeout. Phillip Rivers should have used that timeout to remove Gaither since he was injured. This is a team game, and if your team can’t block for it’s quarterback, then expect disaster.
Regardless of the outcome, timeouts, penalties, injuries & lack of substitutions, Drew Brees has a great game with 4 touchdown passes. Any team that gives up four big touchdown receptions deserves to lose. San Diego’s secondary was picked apart on Monday Night Football and Drew Brees looked very impressive (with a NFL record 48th straight game with a touchdown pass).