First – let’s get this out of the way. All 4 of the teams that made it to the AFC/NFC Championship games deserved to make it to SuperBowl LIII – they all brought their ‘A’ game in one form or another. The Saints and Patriots took early control of their respective games; the Rams and the Chiefs hung in there and clawed their way back. Both games were close, both had high drama, both were worthy Championship games. However, one game in particular has caused much discussion which may in turn lead to a rule change. The ‘non call’ of pass interference at the end of the Rams Saints game.
Now, I accept all the arguments which state that a game, a victory, a loss, is made up of the sum total of all the plays – and that we shouldn’t state a team won or lost because of one play and one bad call. BUT….
Let’s isolate that one moment in time in the NFC Championship game – and use the ‘we are where we are’ principle. All the other plays before this one have taken us to the point where the score is 20-20, 1:48 on the clock and Robey-Coleman flattens Lewis. It is pass interference, no doubts for me. It has to be called, not even close. If it is called New Orleans are 1st and goal from the 5 yard line. The Rams have one time out remaining. At the very least the Saints kick a field goal with somewhere between 15-20 seconds remaining. I think in the aftermath I saw a stat which quoted probable win % if it was called as 98%, that’s pretty definitive).
So i think in this case you can argue this play, this non-call cost them the game (simply my opinion).
The AFC Championship game proved the point that this is a game of inches. Fourth quarter NE 24 – 28 KC, 1:01 remaining. Brady on 3rd and 10 is intercepted on the KC 30 yard line, BUT Dee Ford has lined up offside and the turnover is negated. He lines up a few inches back and Kansas have the ball back and they can, at least, make New England burn their timeouts and punt to pin them back in their own half with around 30-40 seconds left. Trailing by 4 that would have been quite the ask, even for the Patriots.
We have our champions of the AFC and NFC and the matchup will make for a great Super Bowl but it could have been so very different.