This past Sunday, we saw for the 1st time in NFL history, both the AFC and NFC championship games go into overtime. The Patriots and Rams were the victors in both games, however both games came with a lot of controversy. Of all the questionable calls made this past weekend, and trust me there were a lot of them, it was a missed call that turned the NFL upside down.
Image: Drew Brees questioning why there was no pass interference call on his pass to TommyLee Lewis
With 1:49 left to play in the 4th quarter, in a game tied 20-20, and the Saints facing a third-and-10 from the Rams’ 13-yard line, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees threw a pass to wide receiver TommyLee Lewis, but the pass was broken up by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. Immediately after the play, Saints players, coaches, and fans became irate, screaming that there should have been a pass interference call on the play. They were all right. Robey-Coleman clearly got to and hit Lewis before the ball reached either player.
Images: John Johnson breaking up the pass to TommyLee Lewis, 2 angles
In most cases, that play would have been ruled a pass interference, however, none of the 7 refs on the field at the time felt there was a penalty on the play. The game continued, and the Saints would settle for a field goal giving them a 3 point lead with 1:45 left in the game. The Rams were able to rattle off a 9 play drive in just 1:26 to set up a Greg Zuerlein 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Saints were blessed with getting the ball first. For those of you who don’t know, in overtime, the team that gets the ball first can end the game by scoring a touchdown. If they score a field goal or don’t score, the other team gets a chance to either tie or win the game. So on the Saints drive in overtime they managed just 3 plays for -6 yards, culminating in Drew Brees being intercepted by Rams safety John Johnson. The Rams would come out, and Zuerlein would hit an incredible 57-yard field goal to win the game and send the Rams to their first Super Bowl since 2001.
Image: Greg Zuerlein makes a 57-yard field goal in over time to send the Rams to the Super Bowl
Immediately after the game, the NFL league office called Saints’ head coach Sean Payton and apologized, saying the refs had missed the call. Today, a story broke that Saints fans have sued the NFL and are demanding a judge reverse the decision, and grant the Saints an NFC championship rematch. They claim that they were robbed of an opportunity at a fair game and believe that they deserve a rematch. I do not agree with how the Saints and their fans are treating the situation. Here’s why…
Image: Sean Payton and his team upset after no pass interference was called on the play
First, the Saints did not play well. On their first two drives of the game the Saints settled for field goals. Even after driving all the way into the red zone and having multiple opportunities to score touchdowns, they settled for field goals instead.
Second, the Saints were offensively challenged throughout the entire game. They have 2 of the best running backs in all of football and only managed 50 rushing yards in the entire game. Drew Brees threw for 249 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Solid numbers, but nothing like the 346 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions he had in week 9 vs the Rams. To top that off the Saints only managed 10 points in the 2nd half at home, where they have one of the best home field advantages in all of football.
Image: Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald breaks up a pass from Drew Brees
Third, Todd Gurley was a non factor in this game. Gurley, who is arguably the best offensive player on the Rams, and a top 10 player in the NFL had just 4 rushes for 10 yards with 1 touchdown, and 1 catch for 3 yards. He didn’t even play in the 3rd quarter! After the game, he admitted this was the worst game of his professional career in which he was fully healthy, but just not playing well.
Image: Todd Gurley is tackled for a gain of 2 yard
Finally, there were multiple missed calls throughout the game in favor of the Saints. There were 2 face mask penalties and 1 delay of game penalty that went uncalled. All of those penalties could have helped the Rams a lot, but they played through it.
Image: Saints cornerback PJ Williams commits a face mask on Rams wide receiver Brandon Cooks, no call would be made. PC: @Tigerdeanie7
Look, I get it that the Saints and their fans are angry. They have ever right to be angry, but, it’s not going to change a thing. We seem to forget that there is still a human element in all of sports, and just like many of us, these refs aren’t perfect. Sports have been taken over by technology in the last 10 years, and with replay reviews and the ability to change certain calls now being a factor in sports, the NFL seems ready to take a look into making sure something like this will never happen again.
Image: Sean Payton yells at the ref after they missed the call
However, suing the NFL and posting billboards in Atlanta demanding a rematch is not going to get you anywhere. All the Saints can and should do now is take time to rest their bodies, prepare for next season, and get back to the NFC championship game and win it all this time! They have the talent and the coaches to get there again. Who knows, maybe the 3rd time will be the charm for the Saints.
Image: New Orleans fan paid for signs posted in Atlanta, Georgia
Do you agree with my take? Do you think the Saints deserve an NFC championship rematch? Comment below and let me know, and as always, thanks for reading!