Nickell Robey-Coleman is headed to the Super Bowl, so he has no incentive to lie about his role in one of the most controversial calls in modern NFL history.
The Los Angeles Rams cornerback appeared to commit a textbook case of defensive pass interference in the final minutes of the NFC Championship game, knocking Tommylee Lewis out of contention for a pass well before the ball arrived. Referees never threw the flag on the play, and footage of the no-call went viral online as nearly everyone agreed that it was a clear penalty. As the New York Post reported, even Robey-Coleman was willing to admit it.
“Oh, hell yeah,” he told reporters. “That was [pass interference].”
Because the pass was ruled incomplete, the Saints were robbed of a first down that would have allowed them to milk the remaining time off the clock before attempting a chip-shot field goal that would have won the game. Instead, the Saints kicked the field goal with enough time left for the Rams to drive down the field, tying the game and sending it to overtime, where the Rams won it on another long field goal.
The call was widely considered one of the worst in recent memory, given the obvious nature of the penalty and the stakes of the call. Had the referees gotten it right, the Rams almost certainly would not be headed to the Super Bowl.
According to Robey-Coleman, it was a calculated (non) penalty as he knew that it would be a sure touchdown if he didn’t interfere.
“I got there too early. I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown,” he said, via Sports Illustrated.
Saints coach Sean Payton was quite heated about the no-call, saying after the game that the league even admitted to him that it was a blown call. Payton said after the game, “I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference.”
Payton says the League said it was a blown call— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) January 20, 2019
“It’s a tough way to lose a game, especially when we were in a position like that to win it,” Payton said after the game via USA Today.
“We may never get over it.”
The play cost the New Orleans Saints a chance to reach the Super Bowl in what could be the last chance for the 40-year-old Drew Brees. Nickell Robey-Coleman instead will be making the trip to Atlanta in two weeks for their team’s first trip to the Super Bowl since 2000.