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Rams’ Robey-Coleman admits he thought he’d be flagged on controversial non-call

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  • Rams’ Robey-Coleman admits he thought he’d be flagged on controversial non-call

    Rams’ Robey-Coleman admits he thought he’d be flagged on controversial non-call
    By RICH HAMMOND | [email protected] | Orange County Register
    PUBLISHED: January 20, 2019 at 8:32 pm | UPDATED: January 20, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    NEW ORLEANS — Nickell Robey-Coleman hit New Orleans receiver Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived. The world saw it. Saints fans certainly did. The officials did not. Robey-Coleman prefered blissful ignorance.

    “No, I have not seen the replay.” Robey-Coleman said with a smile.

    Did he want to see it?

    “Um, no,” he said. “We do not want to see the replay. Let’s just get on the bus and get on the plane.”

    Robey-Coleman, always a bright, positive presence in the Rams’ locker room, laughed loudly. The people of New Orleans did not share his enthusiasm. They hurled trash on the field, both after the fourth-quarter play and after the Rams beat the Saints 26-23 in Sunday’s NFC championship game at the Superdome.

    The play will be long-remembered. With the game tied 20-20 and less than two minutes remaining, the Saints faced a third-and-10 play at the Rams’ 13-yard line. Quarterback Drew Brees threw toward the right sideline, toward Lewis, and just before the ball arrived, Robey-Coleman delivered a face-to-face hit to Lewis.

    The crowd responded with an initial roar, in anticipation of a flag that never came. Then came the boos and the trash, and the warning from the public-address announcer to not throw it.

    “I saw the defender coming,” Lewis said. “He got up under me. I got up looking for a flag and didn’t see one. It was a bad call. … There was no question in my mind. I got up and popped up, looking for a little yellow flag on the field. I didn’t see one.”

    The situation was costly for the Saints. A pass-interference call would have given the Saints the ball at approximately the Rams’ 6-yard line with 1:45 on the clock. Theoretically, the Saints either could have scored a touchdown or burned enough time to kick a final-second field goal.

    Instead, the Rams got the ball back with 1:41 left, drove 45 yards, then tied the game on Greg Zuerlein’s 48-yard field goal with 15 seconds left. Zuerlein then won the game with a 57-yard overtime field goal.

    Not surprisingly, Saints coach Sean Payton said he talked to league officials shortly after the game. What did they say?

    “It was simple,” Payton said. “They blew the ball. It should never have not been a call. They said not only was it interference, it was helmet to helmet.”

    Rams coach Sean McVay, not surprisingly, had a different view.

    “It was a bang-bang type play,” McVay said. “The one thing I respect about the refs today is, they let the guys compete and they let the guys play. I thought Nickell Robey made a nice play.”

    Independent of the result, he did. Robey-Coleman explained that he initially had been charged with covering Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who lined up as a receiver. Robey-Coleman saw Lewis in the backfield, though, and remembered that in practice, McVay ran a drill in which a receiver lined up at running back.

    Robey-Coleman, on his own, made a split-second decision to leave Kamara to cover Lewis. It was the right move, but even Robey-Coleman acknowledged that he should have been penalized.

    “In my mind, yes, I thought I was going to get flagged in that split second,” Robey-Coleman said. “I thought that would have been a flag and they would have scored on the next play.”

    On the other hand, the Saints weren’t perfect earlier in that series. They chose to pass on first down, instead of run it and eat time off the clock. Plus, the Saints failed to make two defensive stops.

    “If you get a break like that, you have to take advantage of that,” Robey-Coleman said. “In this league, the door opens and the door closes that quick, so if someone is giving you a break, you have to take advantage of it. Good calls or bad calls, whatever it is.”

    The Rams managed a win even though running back Todd Gurley nearly was invisible. Gurley had 4 carries for 10 yards (6 of which came on a touchdown run) plus 1 catch for 3 yards. C.J. Anderson took the bulk of the repetitions and had 16 carries for 44 yards, plus 1 catch for 5 yards.

    “That was just the feel for the flow of the game that we had, not anything against Todd,” McVay said. “C.J. did a nice job, but I thought they did a good job as a whole, slowing down our run game, and we had to grind some things out.”

    Gurley, who missed the final two regular-season games because of a knee injury, indicated that he had not been injured but that he simply hadn’t been playing well. He dropped one pass and had another more difficult catch go through his hands for an interception,.

    “Yeah, I was sorry,” Gurley said. “I was sorry as hell today. I was sorry. So, C.J. did his thing and the whole team did its thing. Everybody kept me up during the game. That’s why it’s a team sport. This is the greatest team sport in America, you know what I’m saying? It takes everybody on the team. That’s what we do.”

    How loud was the crowd in the Superdome? Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said the Rams stood close together in the huddle and staggered themselves in a line, so that they could hear quarterback Jared Goff.

    Goff himself had issues. He started the game with a helmet that had communication issues and didn’t allow him to hear McVay. So, Goff used backup Sean Mannion’s helmet. Then, when Goff’s helmet got fixed, he had a staff member put tape over the ear holes, to minimize the crowd noise.

    “I think once I was able to settle in and really understand what would come in through the helmet,” Goff said, “once I was able to do that, it was better.”

    Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth, a Louisiana native who also played high school and college games in the Superdome, described the scene as “absolutely crazy.”

    “I have never played in anything louder than that, ever,” McVay said. “Not even close.”

    Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, who chastised reporters this week for making too much about the “gumbo” comments he directed toward Payton in November, was captured on video after the game running around the field yelling, “Let’s eat gumbo.”

    According to one published report, unverified by video, Peters ran toward Payton after the game before being pushed away by Saints players. Peters didn’t have much to say during a brief postgame interview.

    “I don’t even eat gumbo. I was just (joking),” Peters told reporters. “I like goulash, really, though. I like red sauce. I like goulash, no seafood, just a little bit of shrimp. … Maybe goulash will be my bowl for the night.”

    Peters drew scrutiny after the teams’ regular-season meeting in November, when Saints receiver Michael Thomas torched the Rams for more than 200 yards, most of which game when he was marked by Peters. On Sunday, the Rams did a solid job overall on Thomas, who was limited to 4 catches for 36 yards.

    The Rams announced that they will wear their popular blue and yellow, 1980s-style “throwback” uniforms in the Super Bowl against New England.

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