Controversial No-Call Costs Saints NFC Championship Game, Twitter Goes Wild

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton admitted his team might never recover from the controversial no-call that might have cost them the NFC Championship Game.

Much to Payton and Saints fans' dismay, referee Bill Vinovich missed what looked a clear pass interference from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman with just 1:45 left in the game.

With the score tied at 20 and the Saints facing a third-and-10 play from the Rams' 13-yard line, Drew Brees opted to throw the ball down the sideline to Tommylee Lewis.

Lewis, however, failed to catch the pass after Robey-Coleman made helmet-to-helmet contact with him. To everyone inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, presumably including Rams' head coach Sean McVay, the incident looked like clear pass interference but Vinovich had other ideas and did not penalize Robey-Coleman.

The Saints settled for a field goal, before the Rams marched down the field to tie the score at 23 with a field goal of their own, as Greg Zuerlein forced the game into overtime. In the extra period, Zuerlein came then wrote his name in Rams folklore with a 57-yard field goal that secured his team a ticket for Super Bowl LIII.

While the Saints scored after the no-call, had Robey-Coleman been penalized, New Orleans would have had a fresh set of downs and the chance to run down the clock before slotting a field goal.

It was a sickening blow for the Saints, who went 13-3 throughout the regular season and had never lost a playoff game during the Payton-Brees era.

This will be a tough one for these players, for the coaches," Payton told ESPN after the game.

"But it happened, though, so we can't dwell on it. And we'll probably never get over it."

Predictably, Vinovich's mistake was the main topic of discussion on social media.

After the game, Payton twice spoke on the phone with the NFL's head of officials Alberto Riveron, who admitted the referee "had messed up" the call.

"Not only was it interference, it was helmet to helmet," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "I don't know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference."

The no-call took the shine off an otherwise excellent game, which saw the Rams haul themselves back into the game despite trailing 13-0 earlier in the contest. Jared Goff completed 25 of his 40 passes, for 297 yards and a touchdown, while Brees completed 26 of 40 passes for 249 yards and two passing touchdowns.

Both quarterbacks had one interception but Brees's proved to be crucial, as it led to the deciding field-goal in overtime.

The veteran quarterback enjoyed arguably one of the finest seasons of his career and while it all came to a disappointing end on Sunday night, Brees is already looking forward to the future.

"I plan on being here next year and making another run at it," he said.

"Last year really brought us together as a team and strengthened us. I hope this will too."

 Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints reacts against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Controversial No-Call Costs Saints NFC Championship Game, Twitter Goes Wild | Sports