Many officiating errors nearly gave the Carolina Panthers an undeserved victory, but the New Orleans Saints were still able to win in the final seconds.
Once again, the New Orleans Saints couldn’t get any breaks from NFL officials, but just like against the Texans at home in the season opener, quarterback Drew Brees put kicker Wil Lutz in position to win with seconds remaining.
New Orleans got the victory, but the game being poorly officiated is mind-boggling, even for Saints fans.
The outrage began when Saints tight end Jared Cook caught a pass from Brees and strolled down the field for a huge gain, only for the referees to call offensive pass interference and cancel the play.
The replay shows Panthers cornerback Javien Elliot making contact with Cook beyond the 5-yard limit ahead of the line of scrimmage set for defenders to jam receivers.
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Elliot flops after Cook tries to get separation and draws a flag, however, a Saints punt led to a muff, fumble recovery and touchdown pass to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith, nullifying the idiotic penalty.
But the most outrageous moment came in a critical point in the game, with the score tied 31-31.
On 3rd & 3 from the Saints’ 5-yard line with 2:26 left, Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen, who was gifted with an unnecessary roughness penalty earlier in the contest after he flopped as well, threw an incomplete pass.
But then head coach Ron Rivera challenged the play for defensive pass interference, and he got what he wanted, as Alex Kemp and his crew gave Carolina another early Christmas present.
On this play, Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson bumped into Panthers wide receiver Jarius Wright, but it was within the 5-yard zone. It wasn’t reviewed for holding since that isn’t allowed.
The pass most likely wouldn’t have been caught anyways, but Kemp tried to make sure the Saints would lose, only to find out that the football gods had the last word.
New Orleans kept Carolina out of the end zone, and kicker Joey Slye missed a 28-yard field goal attempt wide right, giving the ball back to Brees and Co. with 1:56 to play.
The Saints battled back to get Lutz a shot at a 33-yard field goal attempt and he delivered, putting the Saints (9-2) in prime position to win its third-straight NFC South title.
A short week awaits the team as they take on the Atlanta Falcons (3-8) on the road on Thanksgiving and can clinch the division with a win, guaranteeing at least one home playoff game in January.
As long as the Saints can get a break from the league office in New York and the officials on the field, things look to be trending in a positive direction.
“Clear and obvious” needs to be emphasized more in the NFL, and referees need to start being disciplined like players and coaches do, like fines, pay cuts, etc. It seems ridiculous for
Mistakes happen, but repeated ones are a trend, and the league doesn’t want to have yet another black eye on the black and white stripes.