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2018 NFC Championship Game

2018 NFC Championship Game
Mercedes-Benz Superdome Poydras bike.JPG
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the site of the game
1234OT Total
LAR 010763 26
NO 130730 23
DateJanuary 20, 2019
StadiumMercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
FavoriteSaints by 3
RefereeBill Vinovich (52)
Attendance73,028
TV in the United States
NetworkFox
AnnouncersJoe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Chris Myers
Nielsen ratings27.1 (national)
Market share49 (national)

The 2018 NFC Championship Game was a National Football League (NFL) game played on January 20, 2019, to determine the National Football Conference (NFC) champion for the 2018 NFL season. The visiting Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26–23 in sudden death overtime to advance to their first Super Bowl since the 2001 season. The outcome, however, was mired in controversy because of unpenalized pass interference committed by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis near the end of regulation, which would be nicknamed the "NOLA No-Call".[1]

The Saints entered the game slightly favored to win,[2] due to being the NFC's top seed, having homefield advantage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and previously defeating the Rams in the regular season 45–35. Both finished the regular season with a 13–3 record, with the Saints owning the tiebreaker from their prior win over the Rams. In a tight contest that was tied at 20 by the fourth quarter, the Saints reached the Rams' 13-yard line while less than two minutes remained, but the uncalled pass interference caused their drive to stall. Had the penalty been called, the Saints could have run out the clock further and/or scored a go-ahead touchdown to virtually seal their victory. Instead, the Saints settled for a field goal with 1:41 remaining, which the Rams matched on their next possession to force overtime. The Saints took possession first in overtime from winning the coin toss, but an interception from Saints quarterback Drew Brees led to Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein scoring the winning field goal.

The no-call was met with backlash, particularly in New Orleans where Saints fans attempted to have the game replayed and boycotted the season's Super Bowl.[3] Although both the NFL and Robey-Coleman admitted that a penalty should have been called, league commissioner Roger Goodell determined that the no-call was an act of human error by the referees and not enough to reverse the game's outcome.[4] The Rams subsequently lost Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots, who also defeated them in their previous appearance. Following the controversy, the NFL instituted a new rule for the 2019 season that would allow coaches to challenge pass interference calls. Challengable pass interference calls, however, would not be retained after the season.

  1. ^ "A time-out for the NFL in 'NOLA no-call' lawsuit". sports.yahoo.com.
  2. ^ "NFC Championship - Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints - January 20th, 2019". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "NFL's missed call". Scribd. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  4. ^ Martin, Jill (January 30, 2019). "Roger Goodell on blown Saints call: 'Our officials are human'". CNN.com. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved April 26, 2019.