The ambitions of the Saints in the Super Bowl were cursed again with another debacle of unholy repetition


It is rare in sports that we have a moment of genuine and poetic symmetry, so we must appreciate how brutally the incorrect application of the pass interference rule has offended the New Orleans Saints in consecutive NFL seasons.

I mean, how often can we glimpse genuine perfection in this life?

Even if that perfection is perfectly horrible?

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Everyone who has a television has already seen how horribly stupid the Saints were in the 2018 NFC championship game, when Rams defense defender Nickell Robey-Coleman hit catcher Tommylee Lewis when a Drew Brees pass fluttered To the grass It was an offense of pass interference as obvious as it had been committed in the first 99 years of the league and yet officials in the field did not call it. There was no recourse for the saints, because PI was not a reviewable affair then.

Now it is, of course. That's why it was curious that when the Seahawks drove late Sunday night to a potential winning touchdown, which would not only improve their own playoff position but also install the Saints as the seed number 2 of the NFC, which an obvious 49ers pass interference Linebacker Fred Warner against the Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister was able to stand up without delay for a moment.

The Seahawks were not in a position to challenge the play, because it was within the last 2 minutes, when the people in charge of arbitrating the game started the entire repetition. It seemed that there was no revision at all because the next play proceeded very fast. But it turned out that there had been. The senior vice president of NFL arbitration, Al Riveron, told a reporter in the group that he was following the game that the play had been verified, but those who were empowered "did not see enough to stop the game."

It was even more evidence that adding pass interference to the list of reviewable violations was an abomination, but not an abomination as large as the obvious conclusion of the arbitration department that it should not attempt to change the rules with any respect.

"What we see is that we see the offensive player enter and initiate contact with the defensive player, nothing that rises to the level of a foul that significantly hinders the defender," Riveron told the group reporter. “The defender prepares. And then there is contact by the defender in the receiver. Again, nothing that rises to the level of a fault based on visual evidence. "

We have not seen such an impressive work of fiction since author Donna Tartt published "The Goldfinch,quot; in 2013.

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The contact that Riveron describes of Hollister is called, in the language of the game, to execute his route. It happens in almost every country in every NFL game. Hollister does not try to push Warner out of the way: he simply encounters resistance and then turns in an attempt to clear himself to launch a pass attempt.

The problem develops when Warner does not free Hollister from his intersection. Warner keeps his right arm around Hollister's left biceps and his left hand on his right shoulder, at best, vaguely aware of the ball's flight. When he sees him land in the end zone, he releases his grip and raises his hands, even before he regains his balance, his body language shouts: "He is not guilty! That was never an interference!

The lack of interest in the league in assigning an IP penalty was entirely consistent with its approach to repeating the review of this particular section of its rule book. As of December 1, there had been 77 challenges for pass interference problems, of which only 15 were reversed. That is only a rollover rate of 19.5.

To compare that with the frequency with which other categories of calls have been canceled, consider that by the end of the 2018 season, the 10 coaches with the longest periods had their approved challenges at a rate of 43.6 percent. At one time during the season, almost to dissuade coaches from even thinking about using their precious challenges (and waiting times) in pass interference reviews, 20 of 21 such requests were rejected.

It is crazy. Based on the recent general decline in NFL arbitration, and the deployment of the repeat review in particular, it is not unfair to say incompetence.

The Seahawks could have found a way to seize the opportunity if they had been awarded the ball on the 1-yard line after the IP review. After all, they completed a pass at 1 three plays before and got a first down. They spent their next play nailing the ball to stop the clock. Then, incredibly, they received a penalty for game delay.

That does not excuse the conduct or performance of the league headquarters. The Seahawks (11-5) would have had 12 inches, with the four losses available to them, far from winning the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and a home game against Philadelphia (9-7). Instead, they will travel across the continent and face the Eagles in their stadium.

The Saints would have been the seed number 2, with all the rights and privileges granted to that position, including the right and privilege of sitting on the couch next weekend, while eight less successful teams try to survive what the NFL He calls his playoff round Wild Card. Instead, they will be in action against the Vikings.

Riveron will be watching. May heaven help us all.