The Los Angeles Rams are on their way to the Super Bowl—but the way they got there has left the New Orleans Saints furious about what some fans call the "worst no-call in NFL history." Saints coach Sean Payton tells the AP that he spoke to NFL execs after the team's 26-23 overtime loss to the Rams and they admitted that a penalty should have been called when Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman charged into Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis as he tried to catch a pass from Drew Brees yards from the end zone with 1:45 left on the clock in the fourth quarter and the game tied 20-20. If the penalty had been called, the Saints could have run down the clock before setting up a field goal to clinch victory, but the no-call gave the Rams time to equalize and take the game to overtime, Slate reports.
The play happened in front of two officials at the Superdome, who did not blow their whistles despite what observers say was a completely obvious call for pass interference or helmet-to-helmet contact. "We'll probably never get over it," Payton says. New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan says the no-call "was so bad, so overtly obvious that it was nearly inconceivable." He calls the NFC Championship loss a setback that "will forever live in infamy." USA Today reports that when shown game footage amid celebrations in the Rams locker room, Robey-Coleman admitted to interference. "Ah, hell yeah, that was PI," he said. "I did my part. Referee made the call. We respect it." (The New England Patriots also won in overtime.)