Losing the way they did hurt. Here’s how it felt watching it live. The NFC Championship, the No-Call and the loss to the Rams from the cheap seats.
It was a scene befitting a championship game as the Superdome crowd filtered in for what should have been a tremendous game decided completely on the field. In the end, the NFC Championship was a game marred by a controversial no-call that kept the New Orleans Saints from advancing to the Super Bowl. Two seasons, two heartbreaking losses at the end of the game.
The NFC Championship game is supposed to pit the two best teams the conference has to offer for the shot at going to the Super Bowl. Make no doubt, the two best teams were on the field on Sunday. The number one seed New Orleans Saints took that spot truly by virtue of defeating the Los Angeles Rams earlier this season. The Rams continued winning after their loss here and we ended the regular season with identical records. There were no two teams better.
And the game played out as a title game should. Both teams had opportunities they took advantage of, and both had opportunities either squandered or thwarted by their opponent. The Saints came out strong on their opening drive but had to settle for a field goal instead of six points.
Maybe the most telling play happened on the Rams’ first possession. Demario Davis intercepted a Jared Goff pass deep in Rams’ territory. Four plays later, gaining only six yards, the Saints were kicking their second field goal. If there was ever a foretelling series of plays, that might have been the one.
The Saints came back in their third possession after a Rams punt and finally put a TD on the board. Hindsight is 20/20, and there is no way to predict anything about football games. It sure seems, though, if the Saints could come up with at least two TDs in those first three possessions for a 17-0 lead (or better, a 21-0) lead, with that crowd amped up in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, this game might have been different.
The Rams began to find their footing and slowly crept back into the game. While the Saints bogged down after those first three possessions, gaining only 14 yards in their next two possessions, the Rams put together two scoring drives, including a touchdown drive that took them nearly to halftime, to leave the score 13-10 at the half.