No call heard around the world sends Rams to Super Bowl
Forget the Merriam-Webster definition of irony, just look at what transpired in the NFC Championship Sunday.
In a stadium producing deafening sound waves from a New Orleans Saints fanbase that was frequently causing communication problems for the Los Angeles Rams, the most memorable noise will be the lack of a whistle.
On third down with under two minutes remaining in regulation of a tie game, Saints quarterback Drew Brees floated a ball downfield toward his receiver, Tommylee Lewis. While Lewis was attempting to make a play on the ball, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman decided to instead make a play solely on the receiver, upending Lewis well-before the ball arrived. To all 74,000 in attendance at the Superdome, the millions streaming on their devices and even the head of officiating at the League offices on Park Ave, it was a blatant pass interference. The only two people who didn’t see it that way? The two officials standing within 15 yards of the play.
Robey-Coleman was not flagged for the hit– one which Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron admitted should have not only been a PI, but also a hit to the head.
The Saints were forced to attempt a field goal and the rest is history, as the Rams ended up clinching their first Super Bowl appearance since 2001.
Had either of those penalties been called, the Saints would have received a new set of downs inside the red zone with the Rams only having one timeout remaining. At the very least, if New Orleans didn’t score a touchdown, they would have been able to run the clock down to almost 0 before attempting a field goal. The Saints, likely, would have been heading to Super Bowl LIII.
So, if even the head of officiating is saying the NFL made a mistake, what next?
“That became the worst blown call in NFL history,” Skip Bayless said on Undisputed. “There’s no grey area. There’s no debate here… I can’t remember anything worse in sports history than this.”
Even Robey-Coleman admitted it was a penalty.
“Ah, hell yeah, that was PI,” Robey-Coleman said in L.A.’s victorious locker room. “I did my part… referee made the call. We respect it.”
Cris Carter followed in Bayless’ argument:
“The pass interference on that, when the wide receiver can not make a play on the football, you have to be able to call that,” Carter said on First Things First. “I couldn’t imagine how hard that call was [for Sean Payton] to the League office… that’s a tough call to receive on the other end.”
Could this spark a change in replay that allows refs to throw flags after a review? Possibly. Could it bring about a new loophole that allows the folks in New York to tell officials on the field to throw a flag on egregious miss-calls? Perhaps. Will it give the Saints a chance to replay the game starting with a first down bordering the goal line with a chance to play in the Super Bowl? Nope.
Now that, with all do respect Merriam, is irony.
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- Los Angeles Rams
- New Orleans Saints
- NFC West
- Nickell Robey-Coleman