Championship Sunday came and went, but it left behind some unanswered questions. Is Tom Brady officially the GOAT and were the New Orleans Saints robbed a bid at the Super Bowl?
The simple answer to both of these questions is yes. However, the latter can be pin pointed to other plays, yet the missed pass interference/helmet-to-helmet/illegal contact play will go down as one of the biggest no-calls in the history of the game.
Late fourth quarter, Saints with the ball and the score tied at 20-20. It was a simple wheel route that New Orleans converted on four other times in the game, and appeared as if they were going to make it five. Drew Brees dropped back and threw the ball while Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman ran into Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis making helmet-to-helmet contact, restricting him from making a play on the ball. No flag. New Orleans settled for a field goal and left just enough time on the clock for LA to tie the game up and sent it into overtime.
Now, did this officially cost the Saints the game? No…but it would have resulted in an automatic first down and they could have wound the clock all the way down and kicked a FG with no time remaining or they could have scored a touchdown and made the Rams answer with under a minute and zero time outs.
Nonetheless, the Saints had many other missed opportunities to seal the game including the dropped touchdown on their opening drive. They passed the ball on first down on the no-call series in the red zone, allowing the Rams to keep a timeout in their pocket. Not capitalizing on the first quarter interception and settling for a chip shot field goal. The list goes on, but the uncalled pass interference will go down in history as the defining moment of the 2019 NFC title game.
Moving north to Kansas City, we witnessed another day at the office for TB12. Aside from the brutal interception in the end zone on the Patriots’ second drive of the game, the 41-year-old veteran played one of his best games of the season.
In a hostile environment and considered the “underdog” (the best dynasty of all-time was actually given points by Vegas…), New England picked up the road win and sent every bar in Boston into a frenzy. What looked like maybe the Pats shot themselves in the foot on the fourth and one that was stuffed, and the Julian Edelman drop that led to an interception (after a muffed punt that nobody could tell if he even touched it)…they just kept getting back up and fighting.
The highest scoring fourth quarter in AFC Championship Game history (38 points) had multiple lead changes, including the Pats blowing a 10-point lead. Brady drove the team back down the field, converting on what seemed like 10 third downs in the final two minutes of the game and was actually saved by four inches. FOUR INCHES! That was about the length of how far offside Dee Ford was that negated an interception and the win for Kansas City.
Brady and company got new life and scored, but the game would have been over. The Chiefs battled back and tied things up, but once the coin flip to begin overtime happened and New England won the toss, everybody in the world new how this was going to end.
Brady converted three third downs of 10 or more yards while stomping on the Chiefs’ hearts until Rex Burkhead finished them off with a goal line touchdown. The game winning drive made Brady the only QB in history to win three OT games in their career and sent the Pats to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in seven years.
It was one of the craziest conference championship Sunday’s that we have seen in a long time and altered the legacies of both Hall of Fame quarterbacks and head coaches for years to come.