It was the blown call not heard around the world and the LA Rams are going to the Super Bowl, some may say, with an asterisk.
With 1:49 left to play in a 20-20 game and the Saints facing a third-and-10 from the Rams’ 13-yard line, Drew Brees dropped back and threw a pass to TommyLee Lewis, who was annihilated by Nickell Robey-Coleman way before the arrival of the ball, which had pass interference written all over it – in any language.
How many officials did it take to ruin the Saints stellar season? Seven. It was actually so egregious, that the league office called New Orleans coach Sean Payton after the game with what amounted to a meaningless mea culpa.
Bad calls are a casualty of any sport, but what happened on Sunday was shameful and needs to be addressed. There’s no reason for not having booth reviews regarding pass interference and unnecessary roughness – despite lingering concerns about excessive stoppages. The NFL needs to get their act together and commit to finding a way to fix this flawed replay system. Period. Today was a black mark on the league. It’s unfortunate that it occurred during a championship deciding game.
The first rule of Fight Club, you do not talk about Fight Club. The first rule about the New England Patriots, you do not refer to them as underdogs.
Whether or not that fueled Brady’s brilliant overtime victory drive is uncertain – but it sure put a dent in the Chief’s home field advantage plans.
It was business as usual for Belichick and the boys. Julian Edelman was more open than a 7/11, Sony Michel raked in over a hundred yards with a pair of TD’s, Rob Gronkowski took a “running back” break to tend to his tight end duties to the tune of 79 yards and the Patriots offensive line kept Kansas City defenders off of their prized 41-year old quarterback all game long.
But this wasn’t the only game that lacked a key roughing the passer review as Brady got away with a questionable call that later in the drive resulted in Michel rushing his way easily into the end zone.
The Chiefs had their chances but laid a pair of goose eggs in the first two quarters, falling behind by 14 going into the half. Rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes quickly made up for lost time cutting the deficit 24-21. With 3 ½ minutes remaining, there was plenty of time for more points. Damian Williams’ 2-yard run gave Kansas City a 28-24 advantage, but an offside call on linebacker Dee Ford negated an interception that would have clinched a Super Bowl berth.
After the Pats widened the gap by seven, Mahomes showed what a first full season passer could do with 32 seconds, uncorking two deep passes to Spencer Ware and Demarcus Robinson for a combined 48 yards, getting his team in field goal range for a 31 tie at the end of regulation.
In overtime, New England gnawed at Kansas City’s debilitated defense to move on to a date with the Rams for their third straight Super Bowl – where the odds won’t be against them.