- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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METAIRIE, La. -- It's hard to say what was the most memorable part of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks' controversial sack against New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees last season: the league-wide debate that raged over whether Brooks should have been penalized? Or Brees' neck?
Brees' neck stretched so far when Brooks clotheslined him around the shoulder/neck area that it looked as though it was staged through special effects.
"Yeah, people had a lot of fun with Photoshop with that. I had the 'Go Go Gadget' neck," Brees told the San Francisco media Wednesday, in advance of Sunday's rematch in New Orleans. "I got a good laugh out of it, too. ... After the fact, the fact that you're still alive and win the game, it's all good."
It was one of the most controversial and critical plays of the entire 2013 NFL season. Instead of a sack and fumble that could have helped San Francisco protect a three-point lead, the penalty gave New Orleans new life en route to a 23-20 victory.
The penalty was widely criticized, with ESPN analysts Ray Lewis and Tedy Bruschi both offering to help pay Brooks' fine (a fine that was later rescinded on appeal).
Brooks' hit started out looking clean, with his arm initially hitting Brees high across the shoulders. But as the hit continued, his arm wrapped around Brees' neck and Brees wound up with a bloody mouth. At the time, Brooks said he couldn't help it since Brees is only 6 feet tall. Brees said he didn't think there was anything malicious or intentional about the hit, but that it was definitely a penalty.
A year later, Brees insisted that he hadn't even thought about the hit for "the past 364 days" until it popped up when he was watching game tape and when he met with the media.
"It mixes together with a bunch of others," Brees said. "So I wouldn't say it is something that I think about all that often."
When asked if he thinks the 49ers will still be salty because of the memory, Brees said, "I don't know. Ask them about it. From our perspective, that was a game that went back and forth. I think there were maybe breaks on both sides throughout the game. And the bottom line is we were down six points in the fourth quarter and we found a way on three consecutive possessions to go down and get points and win the game.
"A lot of things are gonna happen throughout the course of the game. And you just want to have a chance to win at the end. And the team came together and really fought hard to get that win," Brees continued. "And that's all I can say about last year. But we're really focused more on this year and the type of team we have this year, the type of team they have this year and how we can put together a great game plan and go out and execute that on Sunday."