The No-Call: The Saints and the call that wasn’t made
By Tony Twillie
This writer’s take
I’m torn in my gut on this. As a former athlete, I know the mantras. Never allow the referee’s/umpire’s decision to affect the game. Do all the things you need to do to win, so a bad call doesn’t affect your outcome.
And the Saints had opportunities to have done better. Two early field goals could have been touchdowns and this game could have opened with a 21-0 lead very early.
Some spotty play calling in the second half could have been better. The offensive line didn’t play terribly well (though they were playing an incredible defensive front).
The Saints defense played very well but in the last two crucial drives, they gave up a good number of yards and catches. We didn’t stop them when we absolutely had to. My gut says I should know better. It says when you have opportunities and you don’t take them, you can’t get upset when a call is blown, and you have to accept the consequences. You, as a team, didn’t get the job done and this call was only a piece in the puzzle, not the entire puzzle.
That logic works well in any regular season game. It fails in the NFC Championship.
First, you have an “all-star” officiating team. These guys are supposed to be the best. That’s not to say they aren’t human and won’t miss calls, but you expect them to get the big ones right. They didn’t.
Most importantly, contrary to what players might say about it being just another game, it’s not. It’s for the chance to represent your conference, your city and your fans on the biggest stage we have in American sport. The teams that match up are the best of the best. The expectation will be that both teams play well. And they both did.
Both teams threw away plays, made questionable coaching decisions, didn’t score TDs when they needed. It’s football, you’re not going to be perfect. And, oh yeah, that other team is trying to not let you do those things you need to do. And they’re good too.
Games sometimes come down to one play, or a few plays. No one would have remembered the rush for a loss on first and ten, but a bunch of people would remember the 43-yard reception by Ted Ginn, Jr.
While we didn’t get a TD after the early interception by Demario Davis, we did get points. For the Rams, that’s a win, but for us, we got needed points after a special play. Those are the types of plays that make a game. Sometimes, the difference really is in making one special play, particularly when two teams are so evenly matched. For this reason, the No-Call is tremendously problematic. That play could have been one more of those special plays.
For all the Saints faults, the Rams had faults too. For all the issues, we had done exactly what we needed to do. We had the ball in our hands in scoring range with two minutes to play in the game. We controlled our own destiny. We did what we set out to do.
All that was left was to be smart, to not turn the ball over and not lose yards. Forget the dumb pass play on first down. We STILL controlled our destiny. Until we didn’t. The officials shouldn’t be allowed to take that fate from you. You worked too hard to get to that spot, and you still controlled your fate.
Some will say even after the call kicking the field goal, we controlled our destiny. Maybe, to an extent. We still could have made defensive stops to dis-allow them from scoring. But if you are watching that occur as a player, you wonder about things. You have placed your faith in the game, and the system, and it’s failed you. You did what you needed, but he officials didn’t do their jobs.
The amount of emotional drain there can’t be understated. They’re football players, but they are human beings. So to be so let down that you don’t make plays down the stretch is understandable.
And what about the other direction? If I’m the Rams, I got away with one. We have time. They only scored a field goal. Fate is on our side. They are uplifted, we are deflated. Horrible combination for the Saints. The Rams did what they needed to do with the borrowed time afforded to them by a poor call.
Don’t be misled by the people who say the Saints didn’t do this or that. The Saints did enough to win. They were in position and they controlled their own fate. Until they didn’t.