January 22, 2019 / 8:18 PM / 3 months ago

Saints fans sue NFL over no-call that helped send Rams to Super Bowl

(Reuters) - Two New Orleans Saints fans on Tuesday sued the National Football League and its commissioner Roger Goodell to force a review of the team’s controversial 26-23 loss in Sunday’s National Football Conference championship that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl.

FILE PHOTO: Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell is pictured at an event in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The teams were tied 20-20 late in regulation when officials failed to call pass interference or helmet-to-helmet penalties on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for knocking Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis down as he awaited a pass.

Had a penalty been called, the Saints could have tried to run down the clock and kick a winning field goal with seconds left. Instead, the Saints settled for a field goal sooner, allowing the Rams to tie the game and send it to overtime.

In their complaint filed in a Louisiana state court, Saints season ticker holders Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert said Goodell should enforce an NFL rule they believe gives him power to negate the Rams’ win or restart the game.

That rule lets Goodell act when a “calamity” occurs that he deems “so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”

The rule also bars Goodell from acting when teams complain about officials’ judgments or routine errors. “Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed,” it said.

The NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Saints have not formally complained to the league.

The Rams are preparing to meet the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Prospects for Tuesday’s lawsuit are unclear, although some similar prior cases have been unsuccessful.

In December 2014, an Oklahoma state judge refused to restart a high school football playoff game after officials wrongly negated a go-ahead touchdown with 1:04 to play.

District Judge Bernard Jones wrote that while some observers viewed the outcome as a tragedy, “more tragic, however, would be for this Court to assert itself in this matter.”

Reversals of U.S. professional sports results are rare.

In 1983, baseball’s American League president voided a New York Yankees win against the Kansas City Royals and ordered the game restarted from where the Royals’ George Brett had hit a go-ahead home run, but was called out because his bat had too much pine tar. The Royals won the restarted game.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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