Opinion: A game of missed calls


Alexia Lopez

Alexia Lopez, Intern

Editor’s note: Alexia Lopez is an Upward Bound intern at Student Media and Publications. Upward Bound is a U.S. Department of Education program that provides fundamental support to high school students in their preparation for post-secondary studies. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in pre-college performance and ultimately in higher education.

Last year’s NFC Championship Game was one of the most intense games of the year. The New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams fought for a ticket to Super Bowl LIII.
Unfortunately, the New Orleans Saints were short to their destination, thanks to a penalty that wasn’t called. Who knew that a missed call could make NFL fans go out of their minds?
Especially the “Who Dat” Nation (Saints Fans).

With one minute and 39 seconds to go, the Saints on the Rams’ 13-yard line faced a third down and  their season was on the line. Drew Brews targeted Tommy Lee Lewis with a sideline pass. As Brews delivered to Lewis, a penalty was expected to be called as Nickey Robey-Coleman clearly made contact with Lewis before he could even try to catch the ball.

According to SportingCharts, a pass interference is “a penalty called when a player impedes another player’s ability to catch a downfield pass prior to the ball’s arrival.” The refs refused to throw a penalty flag on Coleman – a flag that would have benefitted the Saints, putting them half-distance to the goal and they would have most likely converted  an automatic first down. The missed call made everyone furious, including the Saints’ staff.

“I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference” said Saints’ Coach Sean Payton.

The Saints were number one contenders and were favorites to win the Super Bowl for their explosive offense. It was obvious that if the penalty was called, the Rams’ season was over. The NFL’s refs have to make wise decisions on which calls they make before fans start thinking they are on the opponent’s side.

The 2019 NFC Championship game was not the only disappointment for fans. Over the past few years, there have been games where the NFL and the refs made unfair decisions on penalties. For example, in 2014, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers went on a battle in a divisional playoff game. As the Cowboys were facing a fourth and one, Tony Romo made a beautiful over the shoulder pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant, which the refs called as a complete pass. Green Bay’s head coach challenged the play, but when the refs looked it over, they decided to change the call to an incomplete pass, when it was obvious that Bryant made the catch.

As time passed, the NFL did confirm that Bryant made the catch, and that the Packers should have received a penalty for pass interference.

The NFL decided to change the rules after these team’s goals were cut short. The NFL had to realize that changing rules and accepting they were wrong will not change a thing. It’s not going to change the game’s outcome. They can’t go back. Unnecessary calls and lack of calling penalties is going to cause fans to stop watching football games. Everyone will start thinking the NFL is rigged, having good reason to think so. The NFL has to take action before things get worse.