NFLbets couldn’t f*&#*&@ing believe the headline over at Yahoo Sports this morning: Michael Thomas cites NFL rule book, calls on Roger Goodell for a do-over of NFC championship.
Come on, now, seriously?
For one thing, yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre. Goodell is too busy employing the best practices of How Not To Be Seen By The Media, lest he find himself having to answer for another case of domestic violence, franchise relocation or deflated balls, to address this little piddly issue. Besides, when was the last time an NFL game result was overturned? (It may or may not have involved the Pottsville Maroons…)
Secondly, you, Michael Thomas, your guys the New Orleans Saints and your coaching staff – not any member/members of an NFL officiating crew – lost the 2019 NFC Championship Game. Your team scored on its first three possessions, one of which started nearly inside the zone, dominated the first quarter completely and took an early 13-0 lead. And lost.
Your Saints defense, in two drives bookending the fateful non-call, allowed the Rams to run off 18 plays for 130 yards while notching zero tackles for a loss. Jared Goff – a guy who your coaching staff was apparently daring to lead the Rams downfield for the win; why else pass on first down with 1:58 remaining? – complete passes to five different receivers, not one of which has the ball-catching skills as you do, Michael. Goff ended up going 8-of-13 for 133 yards after the third quarter.
And what about Michael Thomas himself? Just nine days ago, pundits were tripping over themselves to label Thomas as The Greatest Wide Receiver in the Game Including Odell Beckham while NFL bettors like yours truly were trying to figure out just how the hell Marcus Peters – who has been brutally bad most of the season – and Aqib Talib were going to handle the man without letting every other Saints WR loose.
Instead, Thomas disappeared in Rams’ zone coverages and somehow became even less relevant when a nickel package was out there. Thomas’s long, a reception of 19 yards, came about 11½ minutes into the game when Drew Brees found him single-“covered” by Peters. After that catch, Thomas caught a whopping two passes.
As though an important game has never been decided on a bad call. All you righteous New Orleans fans can surely recall Robert Meachem dribbling the ball off the Superdome turf in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, yet ultimately credited with a catch that put Garrett Hartley in position to kick the game-winning field goal. Did the Saints and their fans ascribe this win to an unfair call? Of course not! They were instead far more (justifiably) likely to bring up the Vikings’ three lost fumbles, for example.
Thomas’s argument is based on NFL Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1:
“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 he 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.”
And Thomas reckons that the “appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures” are to replay the game at some point before Super Bowl LIII kicks off.
(Incidentally, NFLbets believes that Thomas was given the idea by way of either that morning’s Bill Simmons Podcast or ESPN’s afternoon airing of Pardon the Interruption, both of which mentioned the given rule.)
A replay would be quite the extreme measure indeed and would be utterly unprecedented in NFL history, if not all of American sports history. The closest such instance that NFLbets can recall would probably be Major League Baseball’s so-called Pine Tar Game of 1983 between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees; but that was a regular-season game and for the “replay”, only the final out of the top half of the ninth was required for the replay.
Thomas’s case for a full-on replay seems quixotic at best, beginning with the argument that somehow *this* call in *this* game truly was The Worst Call of All-Time in an age of incessant hyperbole – Geez, what about the Dez Bryant catch/no-catch? How about the 2005 Seattle Seahawks? We can hardly imagine this complaint even getting to an official level. Soon, no one outside the greater New Orleans area will give a damn anyway, and that’s fine.
Why? NFLbets has a go-to line in situations like this, which happen incredibly often and are even more common among the NFL bettor crowd. It goes like this:
If you don’t want to lose because of a bad call by an official, don’t put the game’s outcome in the hands of the officials.
In other words, if you can’t win by two scores and/or give the opposition multiple chances to stay in the game, you should be prepared to lose a close one on a referee’s call. If you go up 13 points on your home field with a top-5 offense led by the most accurate QB of our time, yet that game can still ultimately be decided on a single play, well, you shouldn’t be surprised to lose.
And the record will forever show the New Orleans Saints lost the 2019 NFC Championship Game. Which they did.
(Besides, you can't just re-shoot all those “Saints fans react” clips on YouTube...