NEW ORLEANS — The governor of Louisiana penned a scathing letter to the NFL commissioner Tuesday to voice his disappointment over the Saints loss in Sunday's NFC Championship game.
Governor John Bel Edwards joined the leagues of Saints fans criticizing the referees for missing what he described as an "obvious, blatant and intentional penalty."
The Saints final drive in the fourth quarter stalled with a controversial no-call from officials on an incomplete pass to Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. The crowd wanted a flag for either pass interference or helmet-to-helmet contact on a defenseless receiver by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. It wasn't thrown.
If the penalty had been called, the Saints could have run most of the time off the clock to set up a game-winning field goal. Instead, they settled for a field goal with 1:41 remaining, the Rams responded with a game-tying field goal of their own and the Saints ultimately lost in overtime.
"The very least that any fan of the Saints, or any other team, should be able to expect from any game is that the result will be decided by the players on the field," Edwards wrote. "... The City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana deserved better."
The governor said that it is unlikely that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to whom the letter is addressed, would change the result of the game. However, "at a minimum, you and the other team owners should make sure that by next season there is some recourse on the field when such a clear error is made," he wrote.
Edwards believes that the NFL does not act, it would call the game's integrity into question.
"Time has proved that the people of Louisiana are resilient, and we have overcome setbacks much bigger than a bad call in a football game," he wrote. "We will move on from this game an will be there to support the Black and Gold when they take the field again this fall.
"We will move past this game, but we will not forget it."
New Orleans attorney files lawsuit over Saints loss
A New Orleans attorney has filed a lawsuit asking the courts to take action over the Saints loss in the NFC Championship game, WVUE reports.
Attorney Frank D’Amico Jr. cited an NFL rule that would allow NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the outcome of the game.
Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 reads:
"The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game 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."
Goodell could, based on that rule, send the Saints to the Super Bowl or make the two teams play the NFC Championship game again.
D’Amico wants Goodell to have the teams retake the field at the time and spot of the penalty that wasn't called, put time on the clock and let the game play out as if the penalty had been called.
Half a million fans petition for a rematch
In addition to the governor and the D'Amico, thousands of fans are pushing to give the New Orleans Saints another chance with an online petition.
The petition, which has already garnered more than 680,000 signatures, states, "Refs missed a blatant pass interference call against the Los Angeles Rams late in fourth quarter of Jan. 20 NFC Championship game, possibly costing New Orleans Saints a trip to the SuperBowl. Due to refs’ inability to properly officiate at the game, we the undersigned want a re-match against L.A. on Sunday, Jan. 27. It’s the only fair solution to this travesty of epic proportions."
For now, however, the Rams are in line to face off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.