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False start penalties on Drew Brees raise eyebrows

Buffalo Bills v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 27: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 27, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Bills 35-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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It’s rare to see a quarterback called for a false start. It’s exceedingly rare to see a quarterback called for a false start twice, on back to back plays. But that happened to Drew Brees on Sunday.

With the Saints facing a third-and-1, Brees called for the snap and was whistled for a false start. That came at the end of the first quarter, and at the start of the second quarter, with the Saints now facing a third-and-6, Brees was flagged for a false start again. In both cases he seemed to do nothing different than quarterbacks do all the time.

So why was he flagged? Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira showed the penalties called on Brees during a segment on FOX Sports 1 and said the answer is simple: Referee Terry McAulay got it wrong. Pereira said referees have been reminded that quarterbacks are to be flagged for a false start if they make motions designed to draw the defense offside, but as Pereira showed the clips of Brees’s actions, he said all Brees was doing was raising his hands to prepare for a shotgun snap.

“How can that be a false start?” Pereira said. “Come on. That’s not enough for a false start. And not only do they call him once, they call him twice.”

Brees had words with McAulay after the second false start penalty, and it’s easy to see why: If Brees committed a false start on those two plays, then quarterbacks commit false starts almost every time they receive a shotgun snap.