Saints OT: 'Too late' to admit referee erred on no-call

The New Orleans Saints are awash in bitterness and despair after a non-call on Los Angeles Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman changed the complexion of Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

Senior VP of Officiating Al Riveron admitted to Saints coach Sean Payton after the 26-23 overtime loss that officials on the field missed the call.

For Saints players still dealing with the defeat on Monday, any admission comes too little too late.

"It's devastating to us. You can admit, apologize, but we're on our way home," offensive tackle Terron Armstead said. "We get that call, I feel like we've got a pretty good chance to be playing in two weeks against the Patriots. It's too late. It doesn't mean nothing to us to admit it or don't admit it. It's too late."

If the penalty had been called, the Saints would have had the ball with a first down and 1:45 left on the clock. Given the Rams had just one timeout remaining, New Orleans theoretically could have run the clock under 20 seconds before kicking the go-ahead field goal. Instead, L.A. got the ball back with 1:41 left and proceeded to drive for the field goal that forced overtime.

The Saints' defense didn't get a stop at the end of regulation, and Drew Brees threw an interception to set up the Rams' overtime 57-yard game-winner, but it's the non-call that sticks with New Orleans.

Speculation has arisen that the NFL competition committee, which Saints coach Sean Payton is on, could use the controversy as a springboard to expand replay rules this offseason. However, rule changes might not go far enough for some spectators, coaches and players.

It's the second straight year the Saints' playoff run ended in heartache after the 2017 campaign was thwarted by Stefon Diggs and the "Minneapolis Miracle." Sunday's loss, however, felt different.

"Last year we felt like we got beat. They made a play and we didn't stop them," punter Thomas Morstead said Monday, via Fletcher Mackel of WDSU. "As tough as that was, I think as a player you can handle that. This feels just feels a little dirty. It just feels a little dirty."

Saints owner Gayle Benson released a statement Monday calling for "changes in NFL policies" in regards to officiating.

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