By: Joe Zollo
The officiating in the 2019 NFL Championship Weekend games could have been some of the worst ever seen. It is sad that after two unbelievably entertaining games that went into overtime, we are stuck talking about the referees. I am changing that narrative right now.
Yes. New Orleans was robbed of a blatant pass interference call and many people are blaming that on why they lost the Championship game to the LA Rams. It is easy to pick out that play because it was an obvious missed call that changed the course of the game, but shouldn't we also look at other reasons New Orleans blew this game?
Let's start with the first drive. Dan Arnold drops a back shoulder pass directly in his hands for a touchdown and New Orleans settles for a field goal. Four points left on the field. They quickly get it back after Todd Gurley drops a pass that lands directly in a Saints defenders hands for a turnover. New Orleans starts with the ball inside at the Rams 17 yard line and goes four plays and kicks a field goal. Four more points left on the field for a total of eight points in just the first quarter.
New Orleans had a total of two touchdown drives and the first was aided by a massive encroachment penalty on Los Angeles that turned the chains from 4th and 2 into 1st and goal. Even if we forget everything that has just been said, the Saints won the coin toss in overtime and elected to receive the ball.
The first play was an incomplete pass to Michael Thomas. The second play was a 14-yard pass interference penalty on the Rams. The third play was a negative six-yard run by Mark Ingram. Finally, the fourth play was an interception by Drew Brees. Doesn't sound like a Super Bowl winning offense does it? Because in the other game, Brady and the Patriots managed to not give the ball back to Patrick Mahomes and drive down the field for a game-winning rushing touchdown by Rex Burkhead.
I get it Saints fans. There was a blown call. You are upset. Everyone watching at home and everyone in that stadium, excluding the referees, knew that was pass interference. It's over. You should have advanced last year but your safety didn't make the right play and you should have advanced this year but your offense was sub-par; especially on the ground, rushing for only 48 yards.
More replays are not what is needed in this NFL. There is already too much of it and if we start reviewing penalties then what point is there in referees? Humans make mistakes and both the referees and players are human. Before you blame one human, look at the other 53 you are cheering for and tell me they could not have done anything else to win. Then I will concede that you got "screwed." But until then, see you next year New Orleans.