The “No-Call Heard Round the World” Infuriates and Dooms New Orleans Saints

(Photo Courtesy ESPN) Rams’ cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman barrels into Saints’ receiver TommyLee Lewis as the referee watches what will likely always be remembered as one of the worst no-calls in NFL history.

(Photo Courtesy ESPN) Rams’ cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman barrels into Saints’ receiver TommyLee Lewis as the referee watches what will likely always be remembered as one of the worst no-calls in NFL history.

Brenna Renfroe, Staff Writer

(Photo Courtesy ESPN) Saints quarterback Drew Brees expresses his disbelief.

74,000 screams of anticipation fill the air of the Superdome as New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees’s pass soars through the air towards wide receiver TommyLee Lewis.

It’s late in the fourth quarter. The Saints have had a very dynamic drive. Thanks to a 43-yard pass caught by Ted Ginn, the Saints are on the Rams’ thirteen yard line, in striking distance. It is third down. Brees passes to the right sideline.

Fans jump out of their seats in anticipation of the catch. However, the catch never comes. Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman barrels into TommyLee Lewis and sends him crashing to the turf. Fans scream in outrage, waiting for a yellow flag to come flying for what was most definitely a pass-interference.

The flag never comes either. The referees rule it incomplete. There is a shocked moment of disbelief and then denial from fans watching all across the country, whether from the Superdome or from their own couch at home. Then the outrage and emotion comes in and will likely continue to ache for a long time to come.

There is no rule, at the moment, that can force the referees to look back at a replay of a bad call. The helpless Saints kick a field goal with about 1:40 left in the game. The Rams reply with a field goal of their own to send the game into overtime. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton still berates the refs, though he gets no response.

The Los Angeles Rams end up winning the game, thanks to a 57-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein. The final score was 26-23. The Rams will meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on February 3rd.

The media has been abuzz with news about what many are calling the “worst no-call in NFL history.”

If the penalty had been called for pass interference (many believe there also should have been a flag for a helmet-to-helmet hit), the Saints would have had a fresh set of downs to run down the clock and score, sending them to the Super Bowl.

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said in an interview after the game, “I hope no other team has to lose a game the way we lost that one today… We were in a position, like I said, to be right there on the 10-yard line…and be on our knee for three plays. It’s disappointing.”

Fans are in a heartbroken rage. Companies in New Orleans such as an eye care clinic and Popeyes have taken to social media to chastise the league. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas posted a never before used rule from the NFL rulebook, calling out the commissioner.

This rule allows the NFL commissioner to possess “the sole authority” to investigate whether a “calamity” occurs during a game and whether or not it is “so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game and would be inequitable to one of the participating teams.”

The commissioner can then take corrective measures if he deems them necessary. He can restart the game from the point of the no-call or from the beginning. He could even alter the outcome of the game in favor of the Saints.

People have filed lawsuits asking this rule to be called into question. The NFL has still given no response; it is unlikely they will. New Orleans still plans to boycott and protest. Billboards have gone up in Atlanta (where Super Bowl LIII is being held) saying things like “SAINTS GOT ROBBED” and “NFL BLEAUX IT.”

Even though it is unlikely anything will change to stop the Rams from playing in the Super Bowl, people hope that perhaps this chaotic event can at least bring about a change in the rules so that no other team and their fans will have to go through this again.

Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement Monday, “I am thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game. Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult to do and takes such an unbelievable commitment from a team and support from its fans. 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 creating a fair and equitable playing field.”

However, this will hurt for awhile. Drew Brees had this to say in an article from the New York Times. “[This is] tough to swallow. I think there were plenty of times throughout the season where there’s calls that go against you, go for you, or they miss, or they didn’t. Obviously, in a situation like [this] where it seemed like everybody in the world saw it, it’s tough.”