By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
The Super Bowl is set. The Los Angeles Rams will meet the New England Patriots in Atlanta. Both teams trailed in the fourth quarter of their respective conference championship games, both teams won in overtime and both games didn’t end without a little bit of controversy.
For the New Orleans Saints it’s the second year in a row they were knocked out of the playoffs having the lead in the final minute of regulation before losing on the last play of the game.
Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman admitted he was expecting to be flagged for pass interference after laying into Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis well before Lewis had a chance to make a play on the ball. Roby-Coleman never made an attempt to play the football (if he had he might’ve scored on a pick six) and the Saints were forced to kick a field goal rather than run out more time on the clock.
We all know what happened next. Los Angeles drove down the field to tie the game with a kick of its own. Brees was hit on a pass attempt on the first possession in overtime and John Johnson III came down with it for the Rams, who then connected on another field goal to advance to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.
Criticism has been thrown in the direction of Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who elected to pass on first and ten at the Los Angeles 13. The pass was incomplete and the Rams weren’t forced to use a timeout.
However, coaches make mistakes on play calls all the time. Payton called a play on 3rd and ten to potentially undo the error made two plays before. It should’ve gotten New Orleans out of a pickle, but the penalty wasn’t called. Roby-Coleman thought he was going to be flagged. The NFL’s head of officials admitted a flag should’ve been thrown.
I rarely, and I mean rarely, blame the outcome of a game on the officials, but if a flag is thrown on Roby-Coleman the Saints win. Period.
There are always numerous plays that could’ve impacted the outcome of the game had they gone differently, but the no pass interference call is all but guaranteed to sway the outcome of the game based on its result.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt called for accountability on Twitter last night. The NFL needs to make a change in managing its officiating. The question is whether it ever will or not.