Long after this season is over, the New Orleans Saints will remember the pass interference that wasn’t.
With the score tied 20-20 and under two minutes to play in regulation, the Saints were driving for what could have been a game-winning field goal and a trip to the Super Bowl. On third down, Drew Brees’ pass to Tommylee Lewis fell incomplete as Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman made contact with the Saints wide receiver.
“I don’t know if there was ever more obvious pass interference,” New Orleans coach Sean Payton told reporters after the game. In a phone call with with Payton moments earlier, the league office confirmed what replays showed: the officials blew the call.
The Rams defender even admitted he made contact too early. “I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown,” Robey-Coleman told Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko.
If a penalty had been called, it would have given the Saints a first down and allowed them to run the clock down to the final seconds for a field goal attempt. Instead, Wil Lutz’s field goal on the next play gave the Saints a 23-20 lead with 1:45 to play.
The incompletion also left enough time on the clock for the Rams to drive down and kick a game-tying field goal with 19 seconds left in regulation.
While the Saints still had a chance to win the game in overtime, a Brees interception on their first possession led to the Rams’ winning kick.
“It’s a tough way to lose a game, especially when we were in a position like that to win it,” Payton told Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews. “We may never get over it.”
Saints fans may not either.
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