No Call From Old Men
WHAT!?! The most heard word at around the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter of the 2019 NFC Championship Game. Of course this was likely in combination with a variety of four letter words, but we'll keep this family friendly. Unless you live in the caves of Afghanistan, you know that I'm referring to the blatantly obvious missed call by the officiating crew at the game. How blatantly obvious was it? So obvious, that the NFL called Coach Payton after the game to confirm the blown call. So obvious, that the player who committed the pass interference call, knew he was committing a penalty as he did it. So obvious, that ESPN's Skip Bayless called it the worst no-call in NFL history. So Obvious, that Louisiana eye doctors have offered free eye exams to all NFL Referees before next Season. So obvious... okay you get the point.
The No-Call From Old Men was so bad, that it is destined to be talked about for years. It's the type of in-game event that will still find it's place on off-season documentaries twenty years from now (images of a gray haired Drew Brees sitting next to a middle aged Tommylee Lewis, recalling the play comes to mind). But the question to ask first is, was the call that big of a deal? To answer that question, one must first analyze the alternate realities. At that time, the two teams were tied at twenty, and the Saints were driving. On third and long, Brees found a wide open Lewis inside the Rams ten, around the six or so. Rams player Robey-Coleman, who was covering Alvin Kamara at the start, broke from his coverage, and tackled Lewis before the ball got there. Had Lewis been allowed to make the catch, that's six points. Given that a made catch would have resulted in a touchdown, Robey-Coleman's intentional pass interference is an understandable strategy from a curtain point of view. The call, however, was never made. Had it been made, the Saints would have been given a fresh set of downs deep inside Rams territory, with less then two minutes to go, and only one Rams timeout. But that didn't happen, thus allowing the Rams to get the ball back with more then a minute left on the game clock, and down by only three, not seven. The officiating decision made a direct impact on how the rest of the game played out. The last time something like this happened in a playoff game, on this level, you have to go back to 2002's enforcement of the now discarded “Tuck Rule” in the Divisional Round meeting between the Raiders and Patriots.
The excuse from the Refs? Well, no one saw it of course. That's right, the very persons whose jobs are to watch for infraction being committed by these grown men, who are shoving each other around for money, did not see two guys on an island with an air mail address. That's about as believable as no one seeing Jack Ruby approaching Lee Harvey Oswald with a loaded gun until AFTER shots were fired. But that's how the play happened, the Rams are in, the Saints are out, life must go on. Right? Well, that's surely what the Rams and their fans would have you believe. The fact they were the benefactors of the no-call, has nothing to do with their thought process about it, right? No, let's not pretend that had this happened to the Rams, they and their fans wouldn't be the ones crying foul over the no-foul. But none of this will stop any of them from simply saying, “get over it.”
Get over it?
Get over it, like getting over The Falcons blowing a twenty-five point lead in the fourth? Get over it, like getting over Russel's thrown interception from the one? Like getting over Tyre's helmet catch that sets up an end to an unbeaten season? Like getting over the Tuck Rule, or The Bills Norwood's missed field goal? Like getting over The Catch, The Drive, or The Fumble? Perhaps getting over it, like getting over Vinatieri's game winning kick as time expires, thus putting the “Greatest Show on Turf” in the Loss collum to the Brady Bunch. Then again, that was probably only made possible by the Patriots taping the Rams practices. That seems like a fair trade off. Saints fans will work on getting over it, as soon as you GET OVER IT!