NFL admits that Patriots got away with pass interference no-call
While passing a new rule that allows challenges to both P.I. calls and no-calls, the NFL acknowledged the Patriots got away with P.I. in the Super Bowl.
Everyone with a set of eyes and some semblance of a brain seems to acknowledge the New Orleans Saints were robbed by NFL officials when they failed to call blatant pass-interference in the NFC Championship Game between the Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. While it’s impossible to know whether or not the Saints would have won that game if the call had been made properly, it’s absolutely understandable for fans in the Big Easy to still be smarting over the mistake.
What many people don’t know, or maybe weren’t aware of at least, was that a similar mishap occurred in Super Bowl 53 as well.
Towards the end of the game, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore got his arms entangled with Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks as the latter tried to haul in a pass from Jared Goff. The game’s referees didn’t see anything illegal happen, and the game continued on like normal: until Gilmore intercepted Goff on the very next play, essentially icing the win for New England.
Unfortunately, Gilmore should have been called for pass-interference on the play previous to his game-sealing interception, and the NFL competition committee essentially admitted as much on Tuesday while saying the referees erred in letting the call go. Had the flag been thrown, the Rams would have had the ball at the Patriots 1-yard line with a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
Instead, the Patriots were able to salt the game away before kicking a field goal to make it 13-3.
Just as was the case with the NFC Championship Game, it’s impossible to know if New England or Los Angeles would have ended up winning Super Bowl 53 if the correct call had been made. The Rams would have had to score a touchdown still to tie it, and the Patriots would have had plenty of time afterwards to try and win the game. New England did score another three points, after all.
What really matters though is that the NFL decided on Tuesday to make all pass-interference calls – those that are made and those that are not made – reviewable and challengeable by coaches during game. Essentially, it means that Saints coach Sean Payton could have challenged the Nickell Robey-Coleman P.I. no-call and hopefully had a flag thrown after review; it also means that Rams coach Sean McVay could have challenged the Stephon Gilmore P.I. no-call and hoped for a different result.
Whether or not the NFL ultimately decides to keep this new rule remains to be seen. League owners approved the rule change, but only for a one-year trial period. There still exists a very real possibility that the change will create more confusion and controversy than it helps to solve, but perhaps only time will tell whether it does more harm than good.
The Patriots and their fans, however, should be grateful that the rule did not exist before Super Bowl 53. No matter what happens moving forward or in the future, New England’s sixth championship is set in stone, and this latest admission by the rules committee isn’t enough of a controversy to stoke the flames of anti-Patriots hate or increase calls for more “asterisks” next to title wins.