“We’ll most likely by no means recover from it,” the Saints coach stated of his group Sunday, in a bleak press convention following an NFC championship recreation that, realistically, was stolen from them by a blatantly missed name.
The Raiders, all issues thought-about, by no means received over the Tuck Rule Recreation 17 years and someday earlier. A decade and a half from now, there is perhaps a nickname for the atrocity the Saints skilled that can develop into part of the sport’s lore and can hang-out them indefinitely.
Will probably be their model of the Tuck Rule Recreation. And, after all, the Rams’ model of it, too. The Patriots have been by no means the identical, both, and neither was the NFL.
The Patriots kicked off minutes after the Saints stalked dejectedly and angrily off the Superdome subject after the 26-23 additional time loss to the Rams — the Patriots of their eighth straight AFC title recreation, their 13th in 18 years, making an attempt for his or her ninth Tremendous Bowl journey and their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
All relationship again to Jan. 19, 2002, when the Tuck Rule saved Tom Brady and the Patriots and doomed Jon Gruden and the Raiders in a snowy divisional-round recreation.
So nobody can faux one name cannot flip a franchise on its ear and slam the door on its desires. Nor ought to anybody faux it was simply one other name, that all of them even out, that there was nonetheless time for the wronged group to beat it and win.
Like with the Tuck Rule, an officiating determination negated a play that, barring a miracle or disaster, was the lone distinction between successful and dropping. The argument that the Saints ought to have nonetheless received the sport in additional time is just too convoluted to have interaction, for a easy cause: appropriately whistle Nickell Robey-Coleman for cross interference, or head-to-head contact, or each, on Tommylee Lewis, and the Rams by no means contact the ball once more.
Payton and the Saints cannot be begrudged their gloom or anger. In contrast to their elimination by way of the Minneapolis Miracle final yr, their destiny was determined not on their errors, however by an entity entrusted in decoding the foundations appropriately, one thing out of their management.
That is the ache the Raiders suffered when their lock-down of their AFC title recreation berth in 2002 was blown away by referee Walt Coleman’s evaluation.
As an alternative of their journey to Pittsburgh for an opportunity to play in Tremendous Bowl 36, it was the final recreation of Gruden’s first stint as Raiders coach. They went to the Tremendous Bowl the following yr, however they haven’t received a playoff recreation since, have solely made the postseason as soon as, and will now have performed their final recreation in Oakland in any respect as they head to Las Vegas in 2020.
It is arduous to discover a extra apparent instance of franchises touchdown on reverse escalators since then. The identical goes for single horrifically missed calls having that impact … till Sunday evening in New Orleans.
As Payton identified, Sunday’s non-call ended this model of the Saints, arguably the perfect since their Tremendous Bowl group 9 years earlier. This assortment of gamers received’t be duplicated once more. Drew Brees might be a yr older and a yr nearer to retirement.
Shaking off final yr’s loss, or the one in 2012 within the closing seconds to the 49ers, was no simple activity. Shaking off an egregious officiating mistake would possibly actually be as not possible as Payton claimed.
And the place the Rams go from right here? It’s not a stretch to see this enhance them into an period of dominance for the following 5 years … or 10 … or 18.
It has occurred earlier than.