The controversial call wiped out a sack and fumble and allowed the Saints to keep possession on their way to a tying field goal by Garrett Hartley in the fourth quarter. New Orleans won 23-20 when Hartley kicked another field goal at the end of the game.
The penalty generated plenty of debate during the past few days. Brooks argued that the hit to Brees’ chest and neck did not merit a flag. Brees called it a clothesline tackle that deserved to be a penalty.
“I didn’t hit him with my hand or my helmet,” Brooks told reporters. “I basically bear-hugged him. That’s just how football is played. ... Football, the way they call stuff these days, it’s watered down. It ain’t real no more.”
Brees told reporters that he didn’t think Brooks was trying to hurt him.
“I think he’s a heck of a football player and a clean football player. A hard-nosed, clean football player,” Brees said. “But you look at the result of that — and again in real time — you can slow it down all you want and watch it and say, ‘Look where the [arm is].’ But I can tell you how I felt when I got hit. “It felt like I got my head ripped off. And I get up and I’ve got a mouth full of blood. So there was no doubt in my mind that, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be a penalty.’”
NOTE: A person with direct knowledge of Mike Iupati’s injury says the 49ers’ left guard sustained a sprained ligament in his left knee Sunday and it isn’t considered to be season-ending. An MRI this week revealed the sprained medial collateral ligament, and Iupati isn’t expected to need surgery. Iupati has started every game since he was drafted in 2010.