2018 NFL Conference Championship Recap

WASHINGTON — You’re damn right I’m bitter.

Before the season, I picked the New Orleans Saints to win Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, and they’ve been robbed of that chance not because of some on-field choking or getting manhandled by a better team. The Saints season is over because of one of the worst no-calls in NFL history — a play in which not one, but two penalties occurred in one fell swoop, and completely missed by referee Bill Vinovich.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw4GuiDL6rQ

This isn’t hyperbole or crying over spilled milk. Nickell Robey-Coleman admitted he committed the penalty, and the league immediately (and rightfully) admitted the officiating error, and now has to walk around with the black eye that comes from having one of its signature games decided by the refs, not the combatants on the field.

“They blew the call,” Saints coach Sean Payton said during his postgame news conference. “There were a lot of opportunities, but that call makes it first-and-10 and we’d only need three plays. It was a game-changing call.”

Payton also told FOX immediately after the game that it’s “all the more reason we need more replay.” He’s not wrong; even if coaches aren’t granted the ability to challenge such plays late in the game, there should be a replay official on top of that. If some couch jockey at home can see an infraction plain as day, so should someone getting paid to make sure those penalties are called — and by any means necessary.

So while the Saints are reeling from their second straight playoff heartbreak, the Rams are literally choosing what they want to wear to the Big Dance. And the rest of the league notices.

Ok, enough ranting. Time to recap Championship Sunday, the first-ever to feature two overtime games.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20:  Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots rushes for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter as Anthony Hitchens #53 of the Kansas City Chiefs attempts to tackle him during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Patriots 37
Chiefs 31 (OT) Tom Brady is old. Rob Gronkowski looks even older. But they were both clutch, and rookie Sony Michel’s second straight 100-yard, multi-TD game is sending New England to their third straight Super Bowl to face the team they upset to launch this ridiculous stretch of nine Super Bowls in 18 years. It’s also a heartbreaking (and somewhat predictable) end to Kansas City’s storybook season. Even as mother nature seemed to be rooting for the Chiefs, they still couldn’t avoid their seventh home playoff loss in their last eight postseason games. Assuming Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have an RG3-esque ego trip over his marketability, the Chiefs seem destined to enjoy the symmetry of hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy in Arrowhead Stadium sooner rather than later. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Jamie Squire)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) works for a coach against Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Rams 26
Saints 23 (OT) Just look at this play. The first home playoff loss of the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era in New Orleans comes with a huge asterisk, courtesy of Nickell Robey-Coleman’s obvious pass interference AND an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit. Getting over the Minneapolis Miracle is one thing, but even Payton thinks getting over this robbery will be exceedingly difficult. But give L.A. credit for taking advantage of this incredible gift. Jared Goff came up clutch when it mattered most, and Greg Zuerlein’s huge leg might have made that game-winner from about 70 yards if he had to. Nobody’s going to remember Sean McVay made some questionable calls late, just that he’s the youngest coach in NFL history to reach a Super Bowl and at the helm of the greatest rushing attack ever. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20:  Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots rushes for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter as Anthony Hitchens #53 of the Kansas City Chiefs attempts to tackle him during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) works for a coach against Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


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