'They blew the call': Sean Payton says NFL admits to missed late-game penalty in NFC Championship
NEW ORLEANS - Just minutes after a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton says the NFL admitted its officiating staff missed a potential game-ending penalty.
The controversial no-call came in the Saints' final drive in the fourth quarter. What appeared to be a pass interference call against the Saints' Tommylee Lewis would have given New Orleans a first down and allowed them the opportunity to run down the clock before kicking a chip-shot field goal.
Instead, no flags were thrown and the Saints were forced to kick a field goal with more than a minute left on the clock. The Rams used that remaining time to drive down the field and kick a game-tying field goal. Los Angeles went on to win in overtime, 26-23.
Social media immediately erupted in almost universal criticism of the missed penalty.
Imagine not allowing the Saints to get to the Super Bowl because you thought this wasn’t a penalty pic.twitter.com/cyPNmkGUiB— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 20, 2019
Sean Payton said he called the NFL's officiating office immediately after the loss, adding that league officials admitted to the mistake.
"They blew the call," Payton said in the postgame press conference. "They said not only was it interference, it was helmet-to-helmet... They couldn't believe it."
The game was the Saints' first-ever postseason loss at the Superdome in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.