Many New Orleans Saints fans feel that their team should be the ones heading to Super Bowl LIII
While the stage for Super Bowl LIII is already set against the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, some New Orleans Saints fans are hoping a last-minute push could change their team’s fortunes.
The Saints were eliminated from Super Bowl contention on Sunday after losing in the NFC Championship Game against the Rams in overtime, but their stunning loss came under a cloud of controversy.
With the score tied 20-20 with under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Saints were on the verge of a potentially game-winning drive when referees missed a call against Los Angeles after Rams’ cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman moved too early and collided with New Orleans receiver Tommylee Lewis.
Instead of being called pass interference, the play was ruled as an incomplete pass and the Saints were forced to go for a field goal instead of a touchdown, and Los Angeles was able to tie the game at 23-23 to extend it to overtime. The Rams would then deliver the knockout blow with a massive 57-yard field goal to seal the game with a final score of 26-23.
“I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference call that … you know, that here it is, the NFC Championship Game. So, a tough one to swallow,” Saints head coach Sean Payton later told the media. “We’ll probably never get over it.”
Apparently, Payton was right.
According to The New Orleans Advocate, two Saints fans are suing the league and commissioner Roger Goodell for damages, including mental anguish and emotional trauma, as a result of the missed call. The lawsuit, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, also cites the plaintiffs having experienced a “loss of enjoyment of life” and “distrust of the game which has become the National pastime.” A hearing is set for Monday, KTLA reported.
The lawsuit isn’t the only thing Saints fans have mustered up following the loss.
A Louisiana-based eye doctor wrote that he “would hate for someone else to feel our pain,” and offered free eye examinations for each of the officials who refereed the NFC Championship. A Change.org petition launched by fans is also calling on the NFL to make the unprecedented move to host a rematch against the two teams on Jan. 27, just a week before the Super Bowl.
“Due to refs’ inability to properly officiate at the game, we the undersigned want a re-match against L.A. on Sunday, Jan. 27,” a description on the page reads. “It’s the only fair solution to this travesty of epic proportions.”
The petition has been signed by more than 739,000 people as of Thursday afternoon.
One Saints fan went as far as paying for a series of billboards in Atlanta, where the Super Bowl is being played, to display his frustration with the loss. “NFL Bleaux It!” and “Saints Were Robbed,” read two of the signs.
The Rams, who have reached their first Super Bowl since 2000, where they first faced the Patriots, aren’t letting the criticism affect their victory.
“So, it’s just one of those things that’s a slippery slope, and it’s an excuse. [However] you cut it,” Rams’ left tackle Andrew Whitworth told the Turf Show Times. “And the reality is they got football after that snap. They played in overtime with the football. New England had the same situation and won the game. They didn’t score; we did.”
He added: “We can argue about it all day, but they had an opportunity to win the game and we won it.”