The Saints started the game with a 13-point lead, had a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, and had the ball first to start overtime. They settled for two early field goals in the red zone and scored a grand total of 10 points after the first quarter. With 1:58 remaining in the game, the Saints were 15 yards away from the end zone. Because the Rams only had two timeouts, the Saints could have run the ball three straight times with a virtual guarantee of a field goal attempt. If they did that, instead of passing it on first down, the Rams likely would’ve received the ball with no timeouts and about one minute left.
The refs didn’t blow it, New Orleans did.
The Saints have been notorious benefactors of terrible calls and non-calls. They received a break when Joe Haden was called for a phantom pass interference penalty against Alvin Kamara in a pivotal game that cost the Steelers a playoff spot. They caught another break when Marshon Lattimore got away with absolutely egregious pass interference on a critical third down play. In the 2010 NFC Championship, during the infamous “Bounty-gate Game” that was filled with cheap shots from the Saints, New Orleans had two questionable calls to go their way (Robert Meachem’s “catch” and Pierre Thomas’ fumble that wasn’t called), which eventually led to their lone Lombardi Trophy.
And Sunday’s NFC Championship game was not much different. A face-mask penalty could have been called on Jared Goff’s fourth-quarter scramble, but it wasn’t. If the flag had been thrown, the Rams would have earned a new set of downs inside the three-yard line. Instead, they settled for a field goal. P.J. Williams also got away with a face-mask at the end of Brandin Cooks’ 36-yard gain. Then you have this play, where Taylor Stallworth launches himself and lands on top of Josh Reynolds’s head. Again, no call.
I agree, a flag should have been thrown! Obviously penalty! pic.twitter.com/hw67EHNRpm
— Quincy Jean-Louis (@atl_q0) January 22, 2019
Remarkably, there was no conversation about reviewing pass interference calls then. There were no petitions signed, no Twitter threats made, and no lawsuits filed. On those plays, the fans of the Saints celebrated and told their opponents to “cry me a river.”
Every team has experienced bad calls in the playoffs. When Roddy White was interfered with during the 2012 NFC Championship game against the 49ers but didn’t get the flag, the storyline was that the Falcons blew it. New Orleans natives did not care that a penalty should’ve been called; they let us know that we had our opportunity to win. But now, why can’t they follow their own advice?
The whining from New Orleans is becoming insufferable. Saints fans have been threatening referees, leaking their personal information, and Saints players continue to complain on Twitter as well. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of “Who Dat Nation” claiming mental anguish, emotional trauma, and “loss of enjoyment of life”. Matt Bowers, a supposed die-hard Saints fan, is renting billboards in and around Atlanta with messages such as “SAINTS GOT ROBBED” and “NFL BLEAUX IT”. Beyond these lawsuits and billboards being pointless and borderline laughable, they are ironic, because the NFL didn’t blow it; the Saints did.
Matt Bowers, a diehard Saints fans who owns car dealerships throughout the southeast, has rented billboards in seven locations in and around Atlanta with 16 placements to voice his displeasure with the NFL. “And I’m not done yet,” he told ESPN. pic.twitter.com/ZHh0un2Xie
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 22, 2019
New Orleans is a city full of contradictions. The Saints have benefited from a vast number of calls over the years but are having a meltdown when they experience it themselves. They have spent two years trolling Atlanta because they choked a game away, yet the Saints have become the epitome of “chokers” ever since. Sean Payton should have called three run plays and kicked a field goal; Drew Brees could have marched down the field and scored in overtime instead of throwing an interception; the Saints offense could have shown up in general. The Aints choked away an opportunity at the Super Bowl, and New Orleans is doing nothing but showing their embarrassing yet true colors.