It would have been one of the, if not the, greatest game-winning touchdown plays in Saints history.
But instead, Jimmy Graham was flagged for pushing off on Perrish Cox before bringing down the 47-yard pass from Drew Brees at the end of regulation, forcing overtime in which the Saints eventually lost, 27-24.
While Graham’s offense seemed obvious, he naturally disagreed.
“It was definitely not a push off,” he said. “I’ve been in a lot of those situations, and usually you can kick somebody in the chest and get away with it.
“I lay two fingers on somebody and they call it. That’s why I don’t play basketball any more.”
Saints coach Sean Payton said of the call, “I saw it. It looked clean,” but added he wouldn’t pass judgment until seeing the film.
Brees and Graham did connect for two other touchdowns Sunday, the first of which was Graham’s 300th with the Saints. Brees to Graham has now happened 48 times, second only to the 64 TD connections between Brees and Marques Colston. Brees has 381 TD passes in his career, tying him with Tom Brady for fourth all-time. Brady and the New England Patriots were idle this week.
Strange sound I
It’s not often that Brees has been booed, but that happened at halftime after he was intercepted in the end zone by Chris Culiver.
The Saints had reached the 49ers 22 and had two time outs remaining, but with 17 seconds left, Brees chose to try a throw to Graham in the end zone.
“It was my decision and it was the wrong one,” Brees said. “They were playing really soft and I had the matchup I liked.
“If I had it back, I would have chucked it to the back because we needed to get some points there. But I can’t turn the ball over at the rate I’m turning it over and I can’t turn it over in the situations that I am turning it over.”
Brees now has been intercepted 10 times this year, two less than all of last season.
Strange sound II
Whenever the Saints get an opponent in third down, an ultra-loud siren sounds. It’s worrisome enough that it even got its own hashtag, #stopthesiren during the game.
But defensive end Junior Galette professed not to notice.
“I block it out,” he said. “I’m just looking at the ball thinking how I’m going to get off on the snap.”
To go or not to go
The Saints ended their last overtime game with a 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by Khiry Robinson’s 18-yard run to beat Tampa Bay.
They seemed to have similar momentum Sunday, but on fourth-and-one from the 49ers 43, they elected to punt giving the 49ers the opportunity to win the game with a field goal, which they eventually did anyway.
“I was kind of running out fourth down plays,” Saints coach Payton said. “When you go for it on fourth down, you probably have something you like and you spend some time on it.
“We had some, but I don’t think there were any that seemed like the right thing to do, based on what we were looking at.”
Brees said he did not disagree with the decision.
“Just because it’s fourth-and-1 doesn’t mean you’re going to go for it,” he said. “It’s where you are on the field, the pace of the game and those sort of things.
“If you get it, then great. But if you don’t, then we’ve put our defense in a really, really tough spot.”
Second-round draft pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste was a healthy inactive for the third straight game. Jean-Baptiste has appeared in only three of the team’s nine games. Newly signed tackle Nick Becton and guard/center Eric Olsen were also inactive along with previously declared injured players Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson and David Hawthorne. …The Saints are now 11-14 in regular-season overtime games, including an 0-3 mark against the 49ers. …Shayne Graham is now 13 of 14 on field goal attempts this season. … Frank Gore’s touchdown run came at 13:01 of the first quarter. That’s the quickest initial score by an opponent this season, beating the Aaron Rodgers-to-Randall Cobb TD pass in the Green Bay game by four seconds.