Saints flabbergasted refs erased two critical plays vs. 49ers


The New Orleans Saints didn't have much cooking Sunday, failing to score a single point and losing to the 49ers 13-0 at Levi's Stadium.

New Orleans was salty, however, about a couple of overturned plays that had the potential to change the flow of the game.

Early in the second quarter, Saints quarterback Andy Dalton connected with receiver Chris Olave for a 30-yard gain. It would have set up a New Orleans first-and-goal from the 8-yard line in a 3-0 contest. Instead, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan threw the red flag and won the challenge.

"I'm going to be honest with you. I don't know what a catch is in our league anymore," coach Dennis Allen said to reporters after the game. "It's kind of changed multiple times. Their explanation to me was that he didn't survive the ground. So yeah, I don't know what a catch is.” 

"I saw it live, and I thought he took several steps, and then when he hit the ground, the ball came out," Saints quarterback Andy Dalton added. "So, I thought it would've been a catch and down right there, but I guess they saw something different.”

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s former head of officiating, explained the ruling on the FOX broadcast.

“Olave gets control, he gets both feet down, now he has to perform an act common to the game. He has to take another step. That left step with his foot -- he almost trips over his own foot," Blandino said. "He doesn’t take an additional step. He goes to the ground, he loses the football, he doesn’t complete the process.”

Instead of moving inside the 49ers' 10-yard line, the Saints mustered just six yards and a holding penalty over the next three plays and had to punt the football away.

With the Saints trailing 10-0 early in the third quarter, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a pass directly into the arms of rookie cornerback Alontae Taylor. It would have been Taylor's first career interception. However, the play was called back for an illegal contact penalty on defensive back Chris Harris.

Harris was guarding receiver Jauan Jennings on the play, about 10 yards behind where Taylor hauled in the interception. 

RELATED: 'Third and Jauan' has nice ring to Jennings, 49ers' offense

"It was a routine play," Harris said after the game. "He was just running clear out. I just did my regular press, regular play, and they called a PI. I mean, the dude wasn't even running. I wasn't even running. They called it after he picked it and already ran down the field."

The interception would have given the Saints the football inside the 49ers' 10-yard line in a two-score game. Instead, San Francisco kept the possession alive and tacked on the final three points of the game on Robbie Gould's 46-yard field goal.

Even against an elite defense like the 49ers, a lot has to go wrong for a team to get shut out in 2022. That's exactly what happened to the Saints at Levi's Stadium in Week 12.

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