NFL eyes expanded video after botched Saints call: reports

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 22 2019 10:23 AM

Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) breaks up a pass intended or New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

NEW YORK -- The NFL will consider allowing video reviews of pass interference calls, according to multiple reports Monday, in the wake of a heartbreaking no-call in a New Orleans Saints playoff loss.

The Washington Post and ESPN reported the league will consider expanding its video replay to include pass interference plays, citing unnamed league sources.

"It will be discussed at length along with additional fouls that coaches feel should be subject to review," one souce told the Post, another saying consideration would be given to calls and plays lacking a penalty.

The Saints were seething after what appeared a certain pass interference call was not whistled by an official, denying New Orleans a chance to run down the clock and try a short last-play field goal to beat the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's game.

Instead, the Rams matched the Saints' field goal in the dying seconds of regulation and won 26-23 in over-time to book a Super Bowl 53 berth next month against the New England Patriots.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron told Saints coach Sean Payton after the game that officials on the field botched the call.

"It's devastating to us," Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead said. "You can admit, apologize, but we're on our way home. We get that call, we've got a pretty good chance to be playing in two weeks against the Patriots."

Any change must be approved by 75 percent of the 32 club owners, but the competition committee has opposed making judgment calls like pass interference reviewable by video replay.

That, however, was before one of the greatest officiating blunders in NFL history.

"I'm trying to stop crying, for real. Like a baby," Armstead said. "Just thinking about everything in totality, just being so close to actually going to the Super Bowl... It's like heartbreaking."

On the crucial play, Saints star Drew Brees threw a pass toward receiver Tommylee Lewis but Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman slammed into Lewis well before the football arrived. The pass was incomplete. No penalty was called.

"I don't know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference call," Payton said.

Even Robey admitted after the play he should have been called for pass interference.

Payton had no recourse under current rules, but that would change if Payton, a member of the league's competition committee, had his way.

"We all want to get it right, right? We've got plenty of technology to speed things up," Payton said. "I'm on the Competition Committee so hopefully that provides a voice.

"But, man, I hope no other team loses a game the way we lost one."

- Saints owner upset -

New Orleans Saints fan Larry Rolling of Covington, La., reacts after a loss in overtime to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Saints owner Gayle Benson called for change in a statement Monday.

"I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday's events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again," she said.

"It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations -- fairness and integrity."

- 'Roger, pick up phone' -

Saints receiver Michael Thomas clung to an obscure NFL rule dealing with "extraordinarily Unfair Acts" giving the NFL commissioner "sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures."

That could allow NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to act if a "calamity occurs in an NFL game which the commissioner deems 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."

Thomas tweeted: "Rule 17 Section 2 Article 3" and "Hey Roger pick up the phone."

© Agence France-Presse

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