The part we all should be able to agree on: Los Angeles Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman interfered with New Orleans Saints WR Tommylee Lewis. It should have been a flag. It’s an extremely egregious error that, as fans, we should never want to see take place. Additionally, the crew missed several calls on facemask penalties and some odd donkeystompings (donkeystomping #1, donkeystomping #2) from Saints players throughout the game that were equally egregious in their ignorance even if they lacked the proximity to the end of the game that the PI non-call did.
The part that I’m worried about: A myopic quest to prevent the exact same situation from happening while allowing the next situation to happen that’s only slightly different or tangentially related that could get fixed now if we don’t allow the grievance of embittered fans to motivate the process to fix it.
The Washington Post is reporting that the NFL is considering making pass interference reviewable.
Good, but that’s not enough.
Over at Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio is advocating adding an eighth official to crews who would be in the booth to review “all real-time images and replay angles.”
Good, but that’s not enough.
What the NFL has to do is consider the next time this happens (and there’s a good chance that’s 12 months from yesterday) and prevent it from happening now. This offseason.
Because there’s no excuse for this, and we as fans deserve to have the game officiated fairly.
No, the Rams didn’t win the game because of the non-call. And no, Saints fans don’t deserve to have to deal with the what-ifs they’re going to suffer from, well, forever. But Rams fans also don’t deserve to be the target of the ire of fans, Saints fans or impartial fans, looking to discredit the outcome of the game yesterday.
The bottom line is that this was the officiating crew’s fault and the NFL’s fault. They could have implemented any of a dozen different efforts to prevent that play from not drawing a flag. They didn’t take any of them.
Given the media furor following the game, the NFL’s willingness to admit to the Saints that the call was indeed incorrect and the recent statement from Saints Owner Gayle Benson, I’m confident the NFL is going to prevent a blatant pass interference call near the end of regulation going unflagged. But what are they going to do to prevent a blatant face mask on a quarterback near the end of regulation going unflagged? What if it’s not near the end of regulation?
Why do we have to wait for the next dramatic misfire from within the system of officiating in the NFL to essentially sour our experience as fans?
After the game, Florio responded to the non-call with this relevant passage:
But more than that will be needed to avoid the non-calls as to both pass interference and unnecessary roughness, since neither are subject to replay review under current rules. To fix this one, the NFL will need to break from the lingering concerns about excessive stoppages and commit to finding a way to get calls right and to fix mistakes efficiently and reliably.
It’s a shame that it took a championship-deciding call to get the league’s attention, but it’s not a surprise. The league rarely takes proactive steps to prevent bad outcomes, waiting instead for the bad outcome to happen and then making a commitment to keep that specific bad outcome from happening again.
This time around, the NFL needs to look broadly at what caused today’s bad outcome, and to ensure that clearly bad calls and non-calls always will be fixed.
Yesterday, it was the Saints getting jobbed to the benefit of our team.
Next year, it could be two completely different teams with a completely different foul creating the same outcome.
The NFL doesn’t need to let it happen before making an effort to prevent it the next time.
They let it happen yesterday.
Fans, of every team, shouldn’t accept anything less than getting it fixed before Week 1 next season.