Before San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks could settle on his stool, the questions came fast and furious from reporters following his team’s dramatic 23-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Brooks played a lead role in one of the game’s most controversial plays Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, drawing a personal foul penalty for a blow to the neck and head of Saints quarterback Drew Brees with 3:12 remaining.
On the play, the ball came loose and fell into the arms of 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis at the San Francisco 45-yard line, momentarily preserving their 20-17 lead. But the penalty negated the turnover, giving the ball back to New Orleans at the 49ers’ 30.
Four plays later, Garrett Hartley kicked a 42-yard field goal to knot the game at 20. Hartley later provided the game-winner with a 31-yard field goal as time expired.
Asked if the officials made the right call, Brooks replied: “It was b.s., man, It was a b.s. call to me. I didn’t hit him with my helmet. I didn’t hit him with my hand. I simply hit him with my chest and it caused a fumble and we recovered it.
“That was the game, basically.’’
In hindsight, Brooks said he should have tackled Brees lower.
“I don’t know what I could have done differently,’’ Brooks said. “I’m going full speed, and at the last second he ducked his shoulder. I’m rushing around the edge, I’m turning the corner, I’m trying to get to him, and I’m trying to knock the ball out of his hands because I’m thinking he’s going to throw the ball.
“I basically bear-hugged him ... kind of hard. But he lowered his shoulder.’’
Brooks said he first noticed the flag, then he noticed blood trickling from Brees’ lip.
“It’s very frustrating,’’ Brooks said. “The game could have gone in a totally different direction than it went. I’m just mad because that was a big play in the game. We lost the game and that’s probably the reason why.
“They’re trying to protect the players around the NFL as much as possible, but I think they protect the offense a little too much. We still get chopped in the defensive line. We still get cut blocked from the offensive linemen and they don’t do anything about that. If you’re going to protect everybody, then how about they change the rules on chopped block?’’
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh took the high road when asked about the play.
“I talked to Ahmad and he didn’t think he hit (Brees) in the head,’’ Harbaugh said. “He was right there. He was the best witness of them all.’’
“People are telling me it was a terrible call,’’ said 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a former assistant under Saints coach Jim Mora. “But I’m only saying it was not a correct call.’’
49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman said the call went in the Saints’ favor because of the famous quarterback involved.
“I don’t think it’s just because it’s Drew Brees,’’ Brooks said. “I think it’s probably because we’re in New Orleans. That’s what I think.’’
San Francisco rookie free safety Eric Reid put the onus on his team for “not getting one more stop on defense.’’
“I’ve been watching Drew Brees for a long time,’’ said Reid, a native of Baton Rouge who starred at LSU. “He just carried his team to victory. You only get so many breaks against great quarterbacks.’’