(By Daisy Barringer)

It’s no secret that I never cared much for the New Orleans Saints, but since I’m in an especially bad mood, before I recap yesterday’s game, let’s go over the reasons why I despise them:

1. The team is partially comprised of the type of players and coaches who rewarded players financially for injuring opponents. Aka: “Bountygate.” Sure, this happened in 2009 (the year they won the Super Bowl) and ended in 2011, but that was recent enough that I’m still fuming. Especially since we’ve all heard the audio of them targeting specific 49ers players. In short: this makes them not just cheaters, but horrible people. And sure they were punished, but just because they paid their technical dues doesn’t mean I’m obligated to forget.

2. The fans. This directly correlates to the fact that their coaches and players cheated and were punished as a result. Specifically, head coach Seah Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season. Seemed like a fitting punishment to me. However, the ENTIRE time I was in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, I had Saints fan after Saints fan after Saints fan approach me to tell me, brimming with bitter venom, that it should be them playing in the Big Game. Um, NO, losers. That’s not how football works. You actually have to WIN games to get to play in the Super Bowl. And if you CHEAT and then are PUNISHED and don’t win games as a result, then the LAST place you should be is in the Championship Game. Also, I’m in your hometown spending thousands of dollars. Show a little humility and gratitude. And take off your Saints jersey. Your season ended months ago.

3. The Superdome. I can’t believe they allow Super Bowls to be played in that hell hole. It’s a horrible stadium just based on layout and setup. It feels cramped, dark, and dirty. Yesterday, it was so hot that Aldon Smith vomited on the sidelines. More than that though, it’s haunted by memories of Hurricane Katrina, the details of which I don’t need to get into here, but that include flooding, feces on the walls, numerous thefts, a suicide, alleged rapes, and a complete failure of city officials to protect its people. Also, and this seems petty after that last statement, but I’ll say it anyway: The refs clearly cater to the home team in this venue, which is never okay. (More on that later. Obviously.)

Ok wow. That felt good. So yes. I hate the Saints. What’s weird is that I don’t think I knew how MUCH I hated the Saints until yesterday. But I do. Which makes yesterday’s totally unfair and ridiculous 23-20 loss sting all that much more.

Here’s the thing. I can handle a loss with as much class as the next girl. We lost to the Panthers last week and I put all of the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Niners players and coaches. I didn’t stomp my feet or whine for hours. But that’s because WE lost the game. The Panthers beat us. Done.

While I admit the Niners offense played horrible yesterday, WE didn’t lose the game. And the Saints didn’t beat us. The refs did. They screwed up enormously and they gave the Saints the game. A game we should have won. And any time a game is won or lost because of bad calls, I seek out my inner Harbaugh and turn into a petulant child. BECAUSE IT’S JUST NOT FAIR.

But first, let’s go back to the Niners offensive play. Which was horrible. Almost as bad as the refereeing! The fact that the 49ers even had a 20-17 lead with a little over three minutes left in the game was shocking in and of itself. Of course, I give 90% of the credit for that to the defense.

Listen, I know Kaepernick basically has no one to whom to throw the ball. It’s either Boldin or Davis. Davis or Boldin. But that does not excuse the fact that he only completed 17 of 31 passes for 127 yards. Or that he threw an interception. I don’t care that Saints CB Corey White the fumbled into his own end zone for a Niners touchback… He shouldn’t have thrown the INT in the first place.

Kap did have a few great passes… His TD completion to VD was a thing of beauty, for sure. But that TD doesn’t even happen if Ahmad Brooks doesn’t intercept Drew Brees and get the ball to the New Orleans 22-yard-line.

Too often, Kap just looked completely confused. I’m sorry, but a time out on 3rd and 9 in the VERY FIRST series? You don’t know what you’re supposed to do on third down in the VERY FIRST SERIES of the game? That makes no sense. None at all. Even worse, you take the time out and then you STILL don’t get the first? Kill me. Just kill me.

But Kaepernick’s biggest mistake of the game BY FAR was running out of bounds with 1:56 left in the game right after the two-minute warning. Are you telling me that when he was on the sideline during the two-minute warning, not ONE person reminded him not to go out of bounds and so that the clock wouldn’t stop? I find that impossible to believe and it was an enormous mistake that shouldn’t have happened.

And Harbaugh? You’re not helping with quotes like this:

“I thought Colin played very well, very accurate,” Jim Harbaugh said. “He was fighting, just like everybody. Very aggressive, a lot of big-time throws ...”
I’m all for supporting your players, but c’mon. He sucked. And if you DON’T see that, we have a big problem.
Of course, it’s not all Kap’s fault. Greg Roman’s offensive play calling was TRULY offensive. He’s so conservative, one might think he is coaching 8 and 9 year olds, not grown-ass men in the NFL. In September, there were rumors that Roman might take the USC head coach position. I’m starting to wish he had. Hey Greg: REMEMBER FRANK GORE? Yeah, he’s BETTER than LaMichael James, so USE HIM NEXT WEEK INSTEAD, K?

Luckily for Kap and Roman, there are lots of more people to call out for their crappy play.

Harbaugh: Those challenges. WHY? WHY? Is the advice from the booth really so terrible? Going 0-2 on challenges and leaving us with zero timeouts with more than ten minutes left to play in the first half? I mean, that’s just dumb. You know it. I know it. And you’re lucky we lost the game on a bad call that wasn’t challengeable or I’d be a lot more mad at you today.

The offensive line. You sucked last week and you sucked this week. Don’t let your QB get sacked three times. End of story.

Kasmin Osgood. He didn’t see Sproles call for the fair catch, but that 15-yard penalty was brutal. Later, Osgood was on Twitter accepting responsibility for the loss. He’s being too hard on himself. It was a costly mistake, yes. But it’s not why the Niners lost the game.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE AMAZING REFEREEING. Don’t even get me started on the numerous holds that just weren’t called. No, why dwell on those when there’s the call that totally gave the Saints the game. Here’s what happened:

Just over three minutes left in the fourth. The Niners are up by three. The Saints have the ball. It’s third and two. The Niners need a huge stop. And they get it when Ahmad Brooks hit Drew Brees, causing him to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Patrick Willis at San Francisco’s 45-yard-line. GAME OVER. NINERS WIN!

Except, oh wait. The referee throws the stupid flag, declaring “illegal contact to the neck area of the quarterback,” which gives the Saints a first down and the rest is history.

But here’s the problem. THE NECK IS NOT THE SHOULDERS. And the latter are what Brooks hit. I know. It’s confusing. Apparently that referee is the only one in the entire world who didn’t sing “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes” as a kid. BECAUSE IF HE HAD, HE WOULD KNOW THAT THE SHOULDERS ARE NOT THE NECK..

Ahmad Brooks was (rightfully) pissed off after the game, saying, “"I didn't hit him with my hand or my helmet ... I basically bear-hugged him. That's just how football is played. I think this s- is bull-. Football, the way they call stuff these days, it's watered down. It ain't real no more."”

I hate to say it, but he’s right. It ain’t real no more. When a game is lost because of a horrible call by the refs, it takes all of the fun out of the sport. If the players and coaches don’t control their fate, what’s the point of watching?

Again, the Niners offense played terribly. Many would say they did not play well enough to win. Except, facts are facts and they DID play well enough to win. Sure, it’s because our defense and special teams did all of the heavy lifting, but to those who say the Niners didn’t deserve the win because of how they played, I say: You’re Wrong. They played well enough to beat the Saints. That’s the only requirement. The refs just decided that wasn’t how it was all going to go down.

Instead, the 6-4 Niners are now 3 ½ games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West and are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for second place.

Things are not looking good.