As most everyone is now aware, the Saints lost the NFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams. Many feel the game-changing play came when officials failed to call blatant pass interference by Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman. Robey-Coleman himself stated that he expected to receive a penalty on the play, telling Sports Illustrated: “Yes, I got there too early. I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown.” He also told media that he was surprised there was no flag, but that the referees were letting “more and more (calls) go as the game progressed.”
NFL officials later admitted to Saints coach Sean Payton that the call was missed, not only for pass interference but for helmet-to-helmet contact as well.
“It was simple, they blew the call.”
Saints head coach Sean Payton discusses the explanation he got from the officials about the controversial pass interference no-call. pic.twitter.com/nCCFqFmF5N
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 20, 2019
On Monday, in a statement to fans, Saints owner Gayle Benson said that “No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions of those charged with of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field.” She also promised to pursue changes in the way NFL officials operate, saying,
“I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations- fairness and integrity.”
Many have pointed to the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could give the Saints another opportunity, thanks to Rule 17, Section 2 (“Extraordinarily unfair acts”), Article 3 of the NFL rule book:
The Commissioner’s powers under this Section 2 include the imposition of monetary fines and draft-choice forfeitures, suspension of persons involved in unfair acts, and, if appropriate, the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred.
However, it seems unlikely that this will occur. To do so would upset not only Rams fans, but open up a can of worms that stretches across every game played in the NFL this season. Instead of pursuing this option, it seems that Mrs. Benson is looking forward to preventing something like this from happening again.
“Next season starts now,” she tells fans, “and I can’t wait to share it with you again.”