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Outrage Over Blown Pass Interference Call in NFC Championship – Justified or an Overreaction?

AP

Connor Amato, Sports Editor

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On Sunday, January 20, the Saints and the Rams played in the NFC championship to determine which team would go to the NFL Super Bowl. The Saints were the number one seed in the NFC and the favorites for the game, but the Rams were on fire with the explosion of their run game in recent games. Earlier in the season, the Saints beat the Rams 45-35. Looking for a repeat of this outcome, the Saints started well, gaining a 13-3 lead near the end of halftime. The saints had controlled the game up to this point, but now the Rams had a chance to get back into the game before the half. They had 81 yards to go and only 1 minute 52 seconds left in the half, but it was a chance. With a pair of deep passes to Brandon Cooks, they got into scoring position. Running back Todd Gurley Scored the touchdown right before half to make the score 13-10. After a touchdown to each in the third quarter, and a Rams field goal in the fourth, the game was tied. There were 5 minutes left in the game, and the Saints had the ball. They drove down the field, chewing clock away as they went. In no time, there were 1 and a half minutes left, and the Saints were in field goal range. It was third down, but with one more first down, the Saints could end the game with a kneel down and a field goal. Drew Brees floated the ball to the sideline to Tommylee Lewis, but suddenly, defender Nickell Robey-Coleman collided with Lewis, pushing him to the ground as the ball fell to the turf.

GameDay Fox Sports

Gasps erupted from the crowd, but no flag was thrown at the obvious pass interference call. The refs blew a call late in this ultra-important game. The Rams went on to win the game in overtime. Fans of the Saints and NFL were outraged, believing that the call was the reason the Saints won. Anger grew so far that a lawsuit has been filed against the NFL for emotional damage and failure to uphold promises. However, this call is not as catastrophic as the big stage, and high stakes build it up to be.

The first thing to take into account is the game situation. The Saints had countless opportunities to be in a much better position than tied at this point in the game. Even in the first quarter, with a 13-point lead, they had the opportunity to create a lead of 21. No one has come back from a 21-point or more deficit since the patriots super bowl comeback in 2017. The Saints were in the red zone twice but failed to score touchdowns in both situations.

On top of that, the Saint’s play calling was unbalanced, giving their star running backs only 17 carries total. Winning with just 50 yards, rushing is tough. Even if early mistakes do not decide the game, the Saints made a huge mistake right before the penalty. The Rams had only two timeouts, meaning if the Saints ran it on all three downs, they could run 40 seconds off the 1:49 remaining, kick the field goal and leave the rams with a minute and no timeouts to score. Instead, they throw it on first down, stopping the clock, then after a run, they pass it again. This left the Rams with 1:40 and a timeout, giving them plenty of resources to perform a two-minute drill. To say the no call made the Saints lose, therefore, isn’t logical because the Saint’s mistakes were the only reason the Rams were even in the game at all.

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Further, the nature of a penalty makes blaming a game on one (or lack thereof) ridiculous. There are hundreds of missed penalties every season, some deciding games just like this one. The only reason this no call is causing outrage is because of the magnitude of an NFC title game. Earlier in the season, in the Packers-Vikings game and the Steelers-Chargers game, the controversial call and no call, each of which at a pivotal moment in the game, were forgotten. As many put it: that is just how the dice rolls. Some calls will be wrong and even decide a game, but it happens throughout the season. Some outraged fans are calling for the game to be replayed since the call was so important. Using this logic, the NFL must replay every single game where there was a crucial, controversial call (which is many games) because every game and win can affect who gets into the playoffs. In fact, in the Saints week 16 game, which had many playoff implications, there was a critical pass interference call on fourth down that gave the Saints the edge in the game that they went on to win. After a closer look at this penalty, there was no contact at all between the defender and the receiver.

If the Saints had lost that game, they would have been a second or even third seed and would likely have a harder time in the playoffs. Therefore, before the Saint’s defeat is blamed on the refs, the Saint’s victories must also be blamed on the refs.

In conclusion, the no call in the NFC championship is being made much too big of a deal by emotional and angry fans just because of the bigger stage of a championship game. While this game does hold much importance, games earlier in the season, also with controversial calls, allowed the Saints and Rams to be here in the first place. Even if the Saints were indeed better than the Rams, they would not have made mistakes that allowed the Rams to get back and stay in the game.

 

What do you think about the blown call in the NFC title game?

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Outrage Over Blown Pass Interference Call in NFC Championship – Justified or an Overreaction?