NEW ORLEANS — It took hours to process in the aftermath of the no-call on Sunday. For some people it might take days, just like last year.
However, there was not some grand conspiracy against New Orleans or the Saints, according to Eyewitness Sports Director Doug Mouton.
Instead, Mouton said the Saints 26-23 overtime loss to the Rams for the NFC championship came down to one simple thing: Human error.
If you watch enough sports, you see referees blow calls all the time to varying degrees.The difference is, Sunday's human error ranks as one of the worst missed calls in the last 50 years.
Yahoo!'s Jay Busbee ranks the worst blown or non-calls in modern sports history.
The Saints ‘non-call’ that likely changed the Super Bowl participant is ranked 4th. Ahead of it are the following:
3: Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal that helped Argentina beat England in the World Cup quarterfinals in 1986. Maradona, one of the game’s greats, used his fist to tap a ball over the goalie and into the goal in the game while England was irate.
2: A blown call in the 1985 World Series where, with St. Louis leading the series 3-2 and with a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning, the leadoff hitter for Kansas City hit a slow roller and was clearly beaten to the bag, but the umpire called him safe. The Royals scored two runs in that inning, won the game forcing a Game 7, which they easily beat a deflated Cardinals team for the World Series title.
1: The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball defeat to Russia in 1972. The U.S. team had never not won gold, heck, had never lost a game in the Olympics but after making free throws to give the U.S. the lead, the Russian team was allowed to inbound the ball three different times. On the third try, they converted a length of court pass and a basket to send the U.S. down to defeat.
The Saints' No Call
There are two ways to look at the Tommylee Lewis no call.
If the correct call is made, the New Orleans Saints almost certainly win. They bleed the clock, kick a field goal and end the game with a win. Lutz could miss or it could be blocked, but there's a 98 percent chance, as per Mouton.
But there’s another way to see it. On the play after the missed call, the Saints still kicked a field goal. They took a three point lead with 1:48 to go in the game.
At that point, ESPN’s Win Probability Calculator, which is not infallible, gave the Saints an 83 percent chance to win.
The Saints could have, 83-percent should have, overcome the human error.
So blame the call, you had a win.
But, multiple factors after the call caused the loss. And long term, this could help steer the NFL to make pass interference and other judgement calls reviewable.
Sean Payton said we’ll probably never get over it. For now, New Orleans certainly hasn’t.