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Forecast: The best team in Saints history will not be going to the Super Bowl

Apparently, it's too much to ask that NFL officials notice a New Orleans Saints receiver getting blasted out the sky before the ball arrives.

NEW ORLEANS — We'll take this to our graves. The best New Orleans Saints team in franchise history will not be going to the Super Bowl because of an officiating call that will take its place in horrific officiating calls in sports history.

Save your “Well, the Saints shouldn't have let it come down to a referee's decision,” nonsense. In a game of evenly matched teams, that's what happens a lot; it comes down to one play. Apparently, it's too much to ask that officials notice a Saints receiver getting blasted out the sky before the ball arrives.

It was mighty nice of the NFL League office to apologize quickly as Payton said he got a call directly after the game. And I have so many questions...

RELATED: Payton: NFL admits they blew the call, costing Saints possible Super Bowl

I wonder if Sean had to stay on hold or make selections from a menu?

“Press 1 for Super Bowl Hotel reservations.”

“Press 2 to report Bill Belichick possibly taping your practice.”

“Press 3 to discuss egregious officiating.”

Does NFL Films music play as you wait for an operator to talk to you?

I'd like to imagine Payton just strung about 100 four letter words together in a symphony of rage that melted the phone and had whoever was on the other end just turn into a puddle.

"They said not only was it interference, it was helmet-to-helmet. They just -- they couldn't believe it," Payton said in disbelief.

Why miss 1 penalty when you can miss 2?

The NFL will probably start making everything reviewable now and pretend like they've improved officiating. Ask me if I care? The Saints aren't going to the Super Bowl because the officiating was incompetent and that's all that really matters.

RELATED: The NFL's worst nightmare - what they're saying about the non-call

Besides the penalty the referees missed, the other thing about Sunday that was unbelievable was the Saints held the Los Angeles Rams to 77 yards rushing and Rams quarterback Jared Goff to an 83 QB rating and didn't win by 20.

If you told me Sunday morning, “The Rams will average 3 yards a carry AND Goff will only be 25/40 passing," I'd have booked a flight to Atlanta and hotel room before kickoff. Yet it wasn't to be.

RELATED: 'We were robbed' | Saints fans react to loss to Rams

The defense was mostly magnificent and even in overtime after Drew Brees' interception still made Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kick a 57yard field goal to win.

The Saints offense looked exactly like a team with a beat up and injured offensive line. The Saints couldn't block the Rams Aaron Donald or Ndamukong Suh. The fact that that they nearly survived was a testament to Sean Payton figuring things out on the fly.

The Saints struggled in the red zone with a drop by Dan Arnold and failures to score touchdowns, but that happens when you run the ball 21 times for 48 yards. Take away a 16 yard run by Mark Ingram and the running game basically consisted of 20 plays of Alvin Kamara and Ingram going nowhere.

We could analyze another 10 plays in the game but what's the point? Officiating set fire to the most amazing of Saints seasons. Sunday just reminded us again Super Bowl titles are fragile things that take a lot more luck than we probably care to admit.

RELATED: Mouton: Saints had 98 percent chance to win if not for missed call

The 2009 Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a game they were mostly outplayed, except the Saints cashed in on every Viking mistake, got at least 2 favorable officiating calls in overtime, and even needed a guy who ESPN reported as out for the season (Tracy Porter) to save them in regulation.

This is the most painful Saints loss of my life. Another Super Bowl was so excruciatingly close and I wanted it more for Drew Brees and this fun team than for us. We'll always have 2009, but another Super Bowl for Brees would have meant he'd finally be viewed as one of the true all-time greats, not just another Hall-of-Fame quarterback. I wanted to see Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara introduce their comedy routine to America, and I wanted to read 4,000 articles on Saints post-game celebrations.

And the officiating stole it all.

We might never be back here for a long time, maybe ever. Drew Brees is 40 and nothing is forever. The 2018 season was magical and now it's all over because NFL officiating is terrible.

Sean Payton summed it up perfectly, “We’ll probably never get over it.”

RELATED: 'We'll probably never get over it'

RELATED: Brees: 'I feel pretty positive' about returning next season

The best movie we ever saw had the worst most heartbreaking ending. We thought we would be drinking Super Bowl Champagne, instead, we were served a glass full of ineptitude, rage, and sadness.

It's all over, even as we scream into the night demanding it not be.

RELATED: The Saints are our team and we hurt like they do

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes. Oh and watch him every Monday on the WWL morning news at 6:45 a.m.

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