Will Missed Call Haunt New Orleans Saints?

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The New Orleans Saints were denied a place in the Super Bowl by one of the most controversial calls in NFL post-season history in their defeat to the Los Angeles Rams. Sean Payton’s men were driving down towards the endzone in the closing stages of the NFC Championship Game.

A touchdown would have put them on the brink of the Super Bowl, although killing the clock and kicking a field goal appeared to be the primary objective. Quarterback Drew Brees had receiver Tommylee Lewis open down the sideline for a touchdown or a clock-killing first down.

However, Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman took out Lewis in the air before he could catch the ball. It appeared to be a textbook case of pass interference along with a hit to the head of a defenceless receiver. Referee Bill Vinovich and his crew failed to throw a flag, much to the bemusement and fury of the New Orleans’ players, staff and supporters.

Missed Opportunity

The Saints kicked a field goal, but Los Angeles tied the game before a mistake from Brees in overtime allowed the Rams to snatch the victory. Supporters of New Orleans with the club’s owner Gayle Benson have been outspoken in their fury over the call, but it will not change the outcome.

The Rams advanced to Super Bowl LIII to take on the New England Patriots where they are underdogs with MoPlay to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Saints’ fans will be watching with envy, missing potentially their last chance to win the crown for the second time with Brees as their quarterback.

New Orleans are not the first team to feel aggrieved in the post-season. The Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders are among the sides that have felt the sting and were never able to find redemption.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were denied in the Divisional Round in the 2014 campaign when Dez Bryant appeared to have caught a fourth down play to put Dallas on the goalline against the Green Bay Packers. The officials ruled that the wideout failed to survive the ground, which ultimately cost the Cowboys the game. It has since been deemed to have been the incorrect decision.

Dallas’ players in that game were reaching the end of a championship window that was forever closed by the call, although the Packers would still have had time to regain the lead. Further tests against the Seattle Seahawks and the Patriots would lie in wait – so it’s hard to determine whether Dallas were denied a Super Bowl title.

Oakland Raiders

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Source: DynastyDads via Twitter

The Raiders were undone by an obscure rule known as the ‘Tuck Rule’. It’s considered the game that launched the Patriots dynasty when Tom Brady appeared to have fumbled the ball under duress from Charles Woodson. Oakland would have been able to see out the win had the call gone in their favour to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

However, referee Walt Coleman deemed that Brady had tucked the ball before being sacked and allowed the Patriots to remain in possession. Adam Vinatieri kicked two field goals to send New England through. Bill Belichick’s men would go on to win the Super Bowl by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers and then the Rams.

Oakland coach Jon Gruden was fired as a result of the loss. However, he would have the last laugh on his former team. The Raiders recovered in the following campaign to reach the Super Bowl in the 2002 season. Gruden and his new team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers awaited in the contest. The Buccaneers hammered Scott Linehan’s men to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Raiders haven’t been close since.

Uncertain Future

New Orleans are staring into an uncertain future with Brees now at the age of 40. Brady has proved that quarterbacks can still thrive in their forties. Although time could be running out for Brees and the Saints. As proven there’s no easy way back to the Super Bowl. This one will sting for a long time.