NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An egregious mistake by the refs overshadowed the Los Angeles Rams’ moment of triumph.
This is one amazing L.A. Story.
For all the debate stirred by a blatant penalty that wasn’t called in the closing minutes of the NFC championship game, the Rams thoroughly earned their 26-23 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Playing in one of the NFL’s most intimidating road environments, the Rams rallied from an early 13-0 deficit. With the clock winding down, they drove for a tying field goal. And, finally, they came up with a huge interception in overtime to set up Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal — the longest kick ever to win a playoff game.
“We get to play in the Super Bowl,” quarterback Jared Goff said, “and we deserve it.”
Just three seasons after moving back to Southern California from St. Louis, the Rams completed a remarkable rise to prominence, led by their 32-year-old wunderkind of a coach, Sean McVay, and the youngest QB ever to win an NFC title. The next stop is Atlanta, where they’ll face the five-time champion New England Patriots in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl.
We have a lot of respect for the Saints, but there was an expectation, there was a belief that we were coming in here not to just compete with them but to win the football game,” McVay said. “We knew it was going to be a great challenge, but the guys stayed the course.′
Of course, this game will long be remembered for the call that wasn’t on Drew Brees’ pass to Tommylee Lewis inside the 5-yard line.
Beaten badly on the play, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman leveled Lewis long before the ball arrived — with a helmet-to-helmet hit, no less. Everyone at the Superdome knew it was a penalty. Everyone, that is, except two officials who were staring right…