By Lucy Rendler-Kaplan // @Lucyrk78
LA Rams 26 – New Orleans Saints 23
The Los Angeles Rams are going to the Super Bowl. However, that’s not the biggest news surrounding the team this after their win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game Sunday. A missed call late in regulation is.
Yes, there was an obvious third-down pass interference. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis and the Saints didn’t get the chance for a first down that could have run out the clock.
Instead, New Orleans was left with having to kick a field goal, giving the Rams 15 seconds to tie the game. While the field goal gave the Saints the lead, a penalty MIGHT have given them the win. But would it have? We will never know. What would the narrative be today had that potential field goal NOT gone in?
Here’s what we DO know. Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff had a great game. He had throws that went deep and on target throughout the game and in overtime. Linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. caused a rare interception by Saints QB Drew Brees in overtime. Kicker Greg Zuerlein did what Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey could not when he nailed a 57-yarder in overtime to win the game. Worth noting – that 57-yard kick was the longest in NFL history to ever win a playoff game.
Did the better team win? Rams fans certainly think so. So does Goff, saying after the game, “We get to play in the Super Bowl…and we deserve it.” And it’s true. Playing a championship game in one of the toughest stadiums in the league, the Los Angeles Rams rallied back from an early 13-0 deficit.
Think the noise issue in New Orleans was overhyped? During Sunday’s game, it was SO loud that part of the Superdome’s ceiling came down!
The Rams hung on and played hard the entire game. The Saints were fooled by what is becoming a regular fake pass play. Los Angeles faced overtime in the worst situation – Brees was starting with the ball. Holding the NFL’s record for the most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, it seemed he would easily lead the Saints to the win.
But still, Los Angeles did not give up. Keeping up the pressure, Brees got hit as he threw the ball and Rams safety John Johnson was there to catch it. That consistency by the Rams, the odd interception and a league-impressive kick is sending the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl, not a missed call.
Let’s not forget, the Saints had almost a full two minutes to stop Goff at the end of regulation. Goff was able to complete four plays that allowed them to move to a position where Zuerlein could kick a 47-yard field goal.
Does it hurt to lose the biggest game of the season leading up to the Super Bowl? Absolutely. But games don’t come down to “What ifs.” Games come down to players and coaches like Sean McVay.
The Rams head to Atlanta to face the New England Patriots for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Talk Rams with Lucy on Twitter // @Lucyrk78