The Commentator Problem
You Heard It Here Last
The Super Bowl this weekend will feature the Los Angeles Rams against the New England Patriots. If you watched the NFC Championship game, you know that instead of the Rams, it should be the New Orleans Saints. With less than two minutes to go, a third-down hit by Rams’ corner Nickell Roby-Coleman prior to the ball reaching Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis should’ve resulted in not one, but two separate penalties.
Roby-Coleman should’ve been called for both pass interference (since he hit Lewis before the ball got there) and for an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver (since he hit Lewis in the head/neck area while Lewis was trying to make a play on the ball.) Either way, it should’ve resulted in a Saints first down and had the Saints simply kneeled the ball three times and kicked a field goal, they would’ve led the Rams by three and the Rams would’ve had no timeouts and only 15 seconds left on the clock.
Instead, the Rams got the ball with 1:40 on the clock and a timeout, they proceeded to march into field goal range to force overtime, which they managed to win with another long field goal.
The League Office went so far as to admit to Saints’ coach Sean Payton after the game that even they couldn’t believe the non-call. Because of this call, and many others, I think that the NFL needs to completely overhaul the way it goes about officiating.
Several good options have been suggested, but for me, it’d be as simple as allowing certain penalty calls/non-calls to be challenged and perhaps giving each team an additional challenge each game. While this could put referees in a difficult situation, it’d certainly correct these glaring errors that completely change the outcome of games.
One of the primary arguments against such a change is the fact that it could make games take longer. I think it would have a minimal impact, since teams would likely lose timeouts on many such challenges. All in all, nothing can be done now about what happened to the Saints, as with any of the critical missed calls in years gone by. The NFL needs to make changes now, during the coming offseason, so that no other team has to suffer the same fate as the Saints.
Tyler Dean is a senior studying finance and math.