Mehno: Sorry doesn’t cut it for Saints fans

PITTSBURGH — Whoops! Sorry about that.

That’s the sort of thing you might say when you accidentally bump someone’s cart while you’re checking the price of the Ritz crackers in the supermarket.

No harm, no big deal.

Those words don’t seem adequate when stakes are higher.

No doubt the people of New Orleans and fans of the Saints understand how that works.

They got an apology from the NFL over a blown call that may well have cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Rams are representing the NFC instead, thanks to a non-call on a play that should have drawn two penalty flags.

You’ve probably seen the replay. The Saints’ had the ball on a third down and receiver Tommylee Lewis was in position to make a catch that would continue the possession. But he was blasted by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman and never had a chance to get the ball.

It was blatant pass interference and should have been a first down. On top of that, it was also a helmet-to-helmet hit that should have drawn a flag.

Neither penalty was called. There was no second chance with replay because it was not a play that qualified for a review.

Whoops! Sorry about that.

So the game ended with the Rams celebrating and the Saints grumbling.

No one play ever decides a game. There were probably calls that went in the Saints’ favor. New Orleans had plenty of opportunities, given that the score was 20-20 at the time and the Saints were playing on their home turf.

It didn’t happen, though. The reaction was predictable. If the Steelers had been on the receiving end of a bad call, it would live on for generations.

When it’s someone else’s team, it’s much easier to be rational.

It would be interesting to see what kind of ratings the Super Bowl draws in the New Orleans market. There will undoubtedly be Saints fans who refuse to watch. Others probably can’t bring themselves to watch the Rams.

There’s an obscure rule on the books that gives the NFL commissioner authority to pick up the game at the spot of the disputed call and order a new completion.

That was never going to happen. It seems like the policy was written in to guard against a possible fixed game. Do-overs are for “Dancing With The Stars,” not the NFC Championship Game.

This one wasn’t fixed. It was just officiated with a lack of competence, as so many were this season.

So what can you do? Shrug and apologize?

Does Hallmark have a card that says, “Whoops! Sorry about that?”

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com


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