December 05, 2010
There were only seven people in America who didn't realize Drew Brees(notes) was trying to bait the Cincinnati Bengals offside on fourth-and-2 with 34 seconds left and the New Orleans Saints down three points: the Bengals defensive line and the two guys in the FOX announcing booth.
You know it's a bad season when you're falling for the oldest trick in the football book. Poorly coached high school teams don't jump offsides on fourth-and-short.
Although, technically, Brees only succeeded in getting the line to jump into the neutral zone. The penalty was called because the Saints jumped in response to the Bengals' movement. Refs can't call a false start there since New Orleans' early movement was coerced, so the flag is thrown on the team that initiated the movement. Had nobody on the New Orleans' offensive line moved, the Bengals could have gotten back into position and no penalty would have been called. It was as heady a play by the Saints as it was stupid by the Bengals.
[Related: Big penalty for backflip trick play]
But all ridicule of Cincy aside, this rule stinks. The Saints' o-line didn't jump because it was reacting to the Bengals' movement, it flinched on purpose to draw a flag. This is no different than flopping in soccer or basketball. It's perfectly legal and smart strategy, but so is calling a timeout right before a field goal. That doesn't make it any less lame.
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