NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to take certain steps in the event of “extraordinarily unfair acts” that occur during a game and have an effect of the result. One of those steps would be to negate the outcome of the contest and play the game again.
Hundreds of thousands of New Orleans fans think such a case exists following the controversial non-call of pass interference late in the Rams’ 26-23 victory over the Saints in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
“Due to refs’ inability to properly officiate at the game, we the undersigned want a re-match against L.A. on Sunday, Jan. 27,” a petition started by Terry Cassreino on Change.org states. “It’s the only fair solution to this travesty of epic proportions.”
Rule 17, Section 2, of the NFL rulebook deals with acts “which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”
Article 3 of that section of the rulebook states the commissioner has the authority to take several actions in such a case, including “the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred.”
Of course, Goodell is very unlikely to take this step. But that didn’t stop Saints receiver Michael Thomas from tweeting the rule early Monday morning.
Several hours later, Thomas also tweeted, “Hey Roger pick up the phone.”
Hey Roger pick up the phone.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) January 21, 2019
With one minute and 49 seconds remaining and the score tied at 20, Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman collided with Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis without ever looking back at a ball thrown by quarterback Drew Brees on third down.
Robey-Coleman should have been called for pass interference, as Saints coach Sean Payton said an NFL executive told him after the game. Had that call been made, the Saints would have had the ball in field-goal range and a first down, with the ability to conceivably run down the clock before attempting a potential game-winning field goal.
Instead, the Saints had to attempt the field goal on the following play, giving the Rams enough time to tie the game, send it into overtime and eventually win to advance to the Super Bowl.