Saints should NOT seek “revenge” against Rams
By Tony Twillie
The New Orleans Saints will visit the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in a rematch of the NFC Championship game from January.
There are a few people who have begun to look at this matchup as a “rematch” or “retribution” game for the Saints. If the Saints go into this game thinking like that, bad things could happen.
Yes, this is a matchup of the teams that faced off for the conference championship. But this should not be seen as a “rematch” or a game of getting them back for something they did to us. Let’s go back in time to January…
With the Saints leading 20-17 and 10:55 left in the game, the Rams go nearly six minutes on a drive. They are in the Saints’ red zone on the seven-yard line. In our greatest time of need, our defense stands up and forces them to kick a field goal instead of scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 5:03 left to play.
The game is tied 20-20.
The Saints embark on their own drive, including a beautiful 43-yard completion to Ted Ginn, Jr. We are in their red zone now and have momentum. With 1:49 left to go in the game, on a third and ten, Tommylee Lewis wheels from the H-back spot towards the sideline and up the field.
He is waylaid by a defensive back who knew he was in no position to defend the play, so he did the only thing he could – he went for the penalty of interference. The Saints were too deep in their territory and he couldn’t risk the easy TD. It was also a helmet to helmet hit.
No call for either. We know all this.
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At worst, the Saints should get a first down and run the clock down and kick the game-winning field goal. But they are forced to kick a FG then and go up only three when a TD very possibly/likely wins the game.
On the ensuing Rams possession, the Saints defense was attacked hard by the Rams offense, and the Rams got close enough for a Greg Zuerlein 48-yard FG to tie the game with only 15 seconds left.
We know how this ends. We take the overtime loss and miss out on our chance to represent the NFC and the city in the Super Bowl – one I dare say we would have performed better in than did the woeful Rams.
Earlier in the 2018 season we played the Rams in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and defeated them. The Saints jumped out to an early big lead, more than doubling up the Rams 35-17 at halftime. The Rams came back and tied it up by the 4th quarter, but two late scores by the Saints put us up for the win, 45-35.
The Saints don’t have anything to avenge.
If we play a revenge game, we may end up getting caught in the wrong emotions, losing focus. The Rams didn’t beat us last season. We won the first one and had the second one flubbed away from us.
There isn’t a “revenge” factor. All this game should be is one more opportunity to show we are a playoff-caliber team. You do that by executing well and beating other teams that are also solid programs.
The Rams should again challenge for their division’s title as well as being a strong playoff contender. If anything, the Rams would be the ones looking for a small amount of revenge; playing with a chip on their shoulders.
The Rams were defeated by the Saints in the regular season, their first loss of the year. Then the vast majority of people who watch and know anything about football understand that the Saints were well in position to win the NFC Championship game were it not for the NOLA No-Call.
Then there was the Super Bowl travesty. I was among those who did not watch the game in protest, so I can’t speak with great authority.
But from the highlight…er, lowlights I saw in post-game coverage, the Rams stunk the joint up. They were ill-prepared and the game was abysmal (and the ratings were down – kudos to the New Orleans market, small but mighty, whose boycott of the game was part of the large negativity in ratings).
Most believed strongly the Sean Payton Saints would have been a much better match for the Patriots than the Rams. Many wanted to finally see the matchup of the 40-somethings, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, two of the all-time greats, in the biggest game.
So the Rams may be the team with something to prove. They may want to prove they didn’t win the NFC Championship because of a missed call. They want to prove they deserve the shot.
The Saints should go in knowing they were the better team early in the season, and then in the championship game. They should know there is no chip on their shoulder, nothing to prove, no revenge in this game. Let the Rams worry about not being respected.
The Saints need to play their game and focus. This stretch is too hard to get too up over one game.