Since selling their soul to the football gods to beat the Minnesota Vikings in 2009, the New Orleans Saints have experienced a number of playoff heartbreaks.
One of the most underrated comedy films of this generation is “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” where two buddies go through hell and back in order to cure their case of the munchies.
In that movie Harold gets arrested where he meets a fellow inmate who teaches him a valuable life lesson that, “in the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should.”
You see, after the the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl title in franchise history back in the 2009 season, there was a dark cloud of controversy surrounding that Lombardi trophy, an asterisk if you will.
Of course the cause of this was due to the revealings of the NFC Championship “Bounty Gate” game where the Saints hosted the Minnesota Vikings at the Louisiana Superdome.
During the matchup, New Orleans was successful in delivering extra shots and drives to the ground to Vikings quarterback Brett Favre long after delivering passes to his receivers. The Saints ended up advancing past Minnesota and the limping Favre to beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts to win Super Bowl XLIV.
What a beautiful story.
It was a bit perplexing to watch in real time as it was nearly two years after the NFL put an extra stamp of emphasis on quarterback safety following Bernard Pollard’s leg dive on Tom Brady resulting in a torn ACL and MCL for the New England Patriots signal-caller. Brady was forced to miss just about all of the 2008 season because of Pollard’s tackle.
Fast forward to Sunday’s NFC Championship where the Saints hosted the Los Angeles Rams. Destiny was on New Orleans’ side after overcoming an early 14-point deficit at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round of this season’s playoffs.
It wasn’t a matter of whether the Saints would beat the Rams or not. It was more so about where the postgame party celebration would be held down in the Bayou.
With less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on Sunday, Los Angeles pulled a shocker by kicking a field goal to tie the game instead of going for it on fourth and a millimeter away from the goal line.
The Saints then got the ball back on offense and proceeded to drain the clock in hopes of scoring a touchdown with next to no time left or a game-winning field goal with time expiring to advance to the Super Bowl.
That is until the play happened, the most obvious pass interference play that anyone will ever see in their life by Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman on New Orleans receiver Tommylee Lewis with less than two minutes left in the game.
Somehow, the officials missed that call and kept their flags tight. Instead of potentially ending the matchup with a walk-off score, the Saints settled for a field goal and gave the ball back to Los Angeles’ offense, who then forced overtime.
After the game, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton expressed his thoughts on the blown no-call saying that he and the team will, “probably never get over it.”
Well that is just rich.
Where could this disappointment stem from? Could it be from trying to figure out how in the hell an NFL official, reportedly making an average salary of over $200,000, can have a closeup view of an obvious penalty right in their face only to proceed to have a brain fart at a prime moment in a conference championship game?
There didn’t seem to be much concern from Payton and his bounty gate crew while NFL officials put on their best “Bird Box” performance in 2009 as Favre took cheap shots all game long right in front of them.
The blown pass interference call on Sunday was inexcusable just like the multiple roughing the passer penalties that weren’t called on the Saints in 2009 against the Vikings. Let’s keep that same energy.
Minnesota’s followers continue to be reminded about the multiple opportunities that they still had to win that NFC Championship against New Orleans. The thousand fumbles by Adrian Peterson, the late game interception by Favre, among other happenings.
This is fair, just like it’s also fair to point out how New Orleans had the opportunity to seal the game or worst case, put pressure on the Rams as they received the first offensive possession in overtime.
The result was Saints quarterback Drew Brees turning the ball over with an interception which led to their playoff elimination.
That’s too bad. Not even multiple non-called penalties that should’ve been applied to New Orleans including multiple face masks and a delay of game could help give them that extra edge needed to win on Sunday. Not even the whistle man Saints fan could add enough distraction to turn the needle in their favor.
They say misery loves company. In this case that is factual. Right now the trendy thing in social media is doing a 10-year challenge in which someone posts an image of themself from 10 years ago next to an image of them in the present day.
The Viking’s 10-year challenge of the trophy shelf is still the same, dusty and lonely. Still, it brings great joy to see the infinite suffering of the New Orleans franchise in the postseason.
The one championship win by the Saints was built from cheating paired with inept officiating. Since selling their football souls in 2009, New Orleans has undergone heartbreaking playoff eliminations including the infamous “Beast Mode” run by Marshawn Lynch in 2010, the “Minneapolis Miracle” last season, and now the Whistling Pass Interference game.
“In the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should.” Turns out the inmate in “White Castle” was actually right.