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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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  • Nick
    Rams Super Bowl-bound after beating Saints in OT; will play Patriots for NFL title
    by Nick
    Rams Super Bowl-bound after beating Saints in overtime; will play Patriots for NFL title
    JAN 20, 2019 | 7:25 PM

    The Rams spent the offseason adding pieces for a Super Bowl run.

    Trade for two star cornerbacks and a star receiver here. Sign a star defensive lineman there. Reinforce the roster during the season with a dangerous edge rusher and a veteran running back.

    They were the weapons Sean McVay and Jared Goff needed to take the next step, after the young coach and quarterback had returned the Rams to the playoffs and the position of title contender.

    On Sunday, all the work paid off.

    Amid deafening noise at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Goff helped set up longtime Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, who nailed a 57-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the New Orleans Saints, 26-23, in the NFC championship game before a stunned crowd of 73,028.

    The Rams advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2001 season, and the first time since the 1979 season as a Los Angeles team. They will play the New England Patriots, a 37-31 overtime winner Sunday at Kansas City, on Feb. 3 in Atlanta.

    “It wasn’t always perfect,” McVay said, “but we made enough plays, and I think really the overtime period personifies what this team is all about.”

    The victory was not without controversy.

    The officials did not call a penalty against Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman for pass interference or for a helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Tommylee Lewis in the final two minutes of regulation. Instead of continuing to run the clock, the Saints were forced to kick a field goal that put them ahead, 23-20, but left time for the Rams to tie the score on a field goal with 15 seconds left.

    “They blew the call,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.

    Said McVay: “I am certainly not going to complain about the way that was officiated.”

    There was plenty of hollering and laughter in a jubilant Rams locker room after they overcame an early 13-0 deficit, avenged a November defeat at New Orleans and silenced the crowd.

    “I have a really big headache right now from yelling all day,” McVay joked.

    Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and receiver Brandin Cooks — all acquired in the offseason — celebrated with joyous teammates. All played roles in either neutralizing future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees or helping Goff on clutch drives.

    “Nobody in the room’s any happier than those guys,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said.

    On a day when star running back Todd Gurley scored a touchdown but mainly gave way to C.J. Anderson, the Rams offense got out of an early funk after punter Johnny Hekker completed a fourth-down pass to Sam Shields to keep alive a second-quarter drive.

    The play allowed Goff to put a...
    -01-21-2019, 06:05 AM
  • Nick
    Rams don't sweat losing a possible perfect season after 45-35 defeat at New Orleans
    by Nick
    Rams don't sweat losing a possible perfect season after 45-35 defeat at New Orleans
    NOV 04, 2018 | 8:25 PM

    The Rams’ locker room was devoid of long faces. No exclamations of frustration pierced the quiet.

    If anything, after Sunday’s 45-35 loss to the New Orleans Saints, it seemed as if a long exhale had calmed the room. The crucible of trying to complete a perfect season was over.

    “This game right here might be a blessing in a disguise,” defensive lineman Michael Brockers said.

    It did not play out like one, not on a day when quarterback Drew Brees stayed to form as a future Hall of Famer and torched the Rams for 346 yards and four touchdowns in front of a delirious 73,086 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

    The Rams rallied from a 21-point deficit to tie the score in the fourth quarter, but the Saints kicked a field goal and Brees sealed the victory with a long touchdown pass.

    After eight victories to start the season, the Rams learned a hard lesson in reality.

    And they apparently welcomed it.

    “We love it,” coach Sean McVay said. “You find out about yourself when you have a little bit of adversity. … Sometimes setbacks can be setups for comebacks.

    “That’s how we look at it.”

    None of the players said they were comfortable with losing, or with giving up nearly 500 yards — 313 in the first half.

    But after the fawning adoration that came with their 8-0 start, they sounded relieved to focus on the next game, against the Seattle Seahawks, rather than queries about whether they could finish unbeaten.

    “No more media with, ‘The great team, nobody can beat them, dah,dah,dah,dah, dah,’ ” Brockers said. “The pressure’s off.”

    The loss “does relieve some of the maybe pressure to be perfect,” safety John Johnson said.

    “We didn’t go into the week saying, ‘Oh, it’s pressure. We got to stay undefeated.’ It’s nothing like that.

    “We did a good job of blocking out the noise, but it is a little bit of a relief.”

    For much of the first half, it looked as if McVay and Saints coach Sean Payton were competing in a game of one-upmanship to claim the title as the NFL’s most clever play-caller.

    The Rams appeared headed for a blowout loss after McVay made a second-quarter decision that backfired and started the Saints on a run of giving up 21 consecutive points.

    With the score 14-14, the Rams faked a field-goal try. Holder Johnny Hekker took the snap and sprinted toward the right sideline but was ruled short of the first down. McVay challenged the call, which was upheld on review.

    Brees then drove the Saints for a touchdown, Greg Zuerlein missed a field-goal attempt and Brees passed for another touchdown, increasing the lead to 14 points. The Saints then intercepted a Jared Goff pass, setting up running back Alvin...
    -11-05-2018, 03:10 PM
  • Nick
    Rams deserve to play in the Super Bowl, even if they got some help to make it there
    by Nick
    The Rams deserve to play in the Super Bowl, even if they got some help to make it there
    By Jerry Brewer
    WP Columnist
    January 20 at 9:40 PM

    NEW ORLEANS — If you love controversy and hate the idea of the Los Angeles Rams, then it will be easy to discredit what they accomplished Sunday at the earsplitting Superdome. You will brand them lucky. You might even suggest the NFL conspired to get their big-name, pass-interfering fannies into the Super Bowl. When a great game includes a bad call at a critical moment, it’s hard to separate the spectacular from the dirty.

    It is a much simpler — and lazier — task to rag on the serial carpetbagging franchise, which is now back in Hollywood with a glamorous roster to match and experiencing a meteoric resurgence that belies the difficulty of its journey. Don’t get carried away with the outrage, however. The messy officiating is only one part of the story. It shouldn’t overshadow that the Rams, for all their star power and offensive brilliance and clever coaching, proved to be more than just stylish in becoming the first road team in six seasons to win a conference championship game.

    In a 26-23 overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles captured a wild and hard-broiled NFC championship game and advanced to Super Bowl LIII. It took everything that the Rams had, and it also took a controversial no-call on a clear pass interference penalty when cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman clobbered Tommylee Lewis on third down with 1:45 remaining in regulation. If a penalty had been called, Saints quarterback Drew Brees would have been given a new set of downs, and Coach Sean Payton would have taken the opportunity to run down the clock and set up a field goal attempt on the game’s final play. Instead, Wil Lutz made a 31-yard kick to give New Orleans a 23-20 lead with 1:41 remaining, which gave the Rams time to drive 45 yards and tie the game with a Greg Zuerlein 48-yarder with 19 seconds left.

    There was plenty of football before and after the no-call, but that moment defined the game. It was a shame. But the shame belongs to the referees, not the Rams.

    They still won this game on an incredible kick by Zuerlein, who lived up to his “Greg the Leg” nickname and drilled a 57-yard try in overtime to send Los Angeles into euphoria. It was the longest winning field goal in playoff history, and even though it came in the friendly kicking confines of a dome, Zuerlein made it with 73,028 fans creating so much noise the stadium shook. When he split the uprights and the Rams players and coaches ran onto the field to celebrate, the Superdome fell silent instantly, as if someone had pressed the mute button on a remote.

    The Rams still won this game by recovering from a disastrous first quarter and overcoming a 13-0 deficit. They did it with running back Todd Gurley II, their best weapon, gaining just 10 yards on four carries and...
    -01-22-2019, 05:57 AM
  • Nick
    Ted Nguyen’s Film Room: Goff makes big throw after big throw
    by Nick
    Ted Nguyen’s Film Room: Goff makes big throw after big throw
    By Ted Nguyen Jan 23, 2019 22

    Could Jared Goff win if the defense took away the run game and forced Goff to beat them? Could the Rams defense step up and make stops if the offense stalled? Those were the two biggest question marks in the Rams’ bid for a Super Bowl.

    After being hastily labeled as a bust by pundits after his rookie year, Goff has made a remarkable turnaround under the tutelage of head coach Sean McVay, but in a sense, he was also hidden behind the shield of McVay and his offensive genius. The Rams’ wide zone run game and play action created a lot of easy throws for Goff and he never really got credit for some of the tough throws that he did make. He was given the dreaded “system quarterback” label.

    When the Bears and Eagles shut down the Rams’ running game in Weeks 14-15, Goff struggled mightily. In the NFC Championship game, the Rams running backs averaged fewer than 3 yards a carry but Goff stepped up in the game’s most critical moments. His numbers weren’t eye-popping but in the deafening Superdome, against a very good Saints defense, Goff kept making big throw after big throw.

    Star running back Todd Gurley’s health was questioned after he was mysteriously shut down by his coach. Gurley hurt his knee in the regular season and sat out the final two games of the season but looked healthy against the Cowboys in the divisional round in which he rushed for 116 yards on 16 carries (7.2 YPC). After a rough start to the NFC Championship game in which he dropped a couple of passes, Gurley finished with only 4 carries for 10 yards (2.5 YPC) and a touchdown. C.J. Anderson received a bulk of the carries but he didn’t fare much better with 16 carries for 44 yards (2.8 YPC).

    “Today, that was just kind of the feel for the flow of the game,” McVay told Connor Casey of 247Sports. “Not anything against Todd. C.J. did a nice job, but I think (the Saints) did a nice job as a whole slowing down our run game and we kind of just had to grind some things out.”

    Gurley said he was fine and that he just played like “trash.” I believe the flow of the game did dictate Anderson getting more carries.

    Since Anderson signed with the Rams, they have been more balanced in their run game. Anderson was used more on vertical runs rather than stretch runs, which is the Rams’ bread-and-butter play. McVay called a disproportionally high percentage of outside zone compared to inside run concepts in the regular season. According to Pro Football Focus, the Rams ran 237 outside zone plays to 179 inside run concepts. Against the Saints, McVay called eight outside zones to 12 inside run concepts (not counting quarterback or receiver carries).

    The Saints have a talented front seven and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen had an effective game plan for taking away the outside zone.

    On Gurley’s...
    -01-25-2019, 07:04 AM
  • Nick
    Super Bowl or Bust: Rams’ gamble pays off
    by Nick
    Super Bowl or Bust: Rams’ gamble pays off
    By Lindsay Jones Jan 20, 2019 20

    NEW​ ORLEANS — The Rams​ never​ made​ banners declaring their​ intentions this year​ to be​ Super Bowl​ or Bust, but​ they didn’t​​ have to. Their actions made it obvious.

    Trades last spring for a new pair of starting cornerbacks, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The free agent addition of intimidating defense tackle Ndamukong Suh. Massive contract extensions for Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald. A midseason trade for pass rusher Dante Fowler.

    So many explosive players, several with equally explosive personalities, that when mixed with an already talented roster and an all-star coaching staff, would result in a Super Bowl berth. Or so they hoped.

    But how many times have these Super Bowl of Bust teams turned combustible? The 2011 Dream Team Philadelphia Eagles, collectors of blue chip free agents, flamed out. The other team that went all in for 2018, the Minnesota Vikings, with their acquisition of Kirk Cousins, didn’t even make the playoffs after making the NFC Championship game last year.

    The Rams have shown over and over since their move to Los Angeles three years ago they are the NFL’s biggest gamblers. Each of the moves paid off Sunday in the form of a 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints.

    And like any gambler knows, it required some major guts and a lot of luck to get there.

    Guts came in the form of the call for a fake punt on the second play of the second quarter, from their own 30-yard line. Punter Johnny Hekker lobbed a pass to cornerback Sam Shields for the first down, providing the Rams’ first spark after an ugly first quarter and extending a drive that eventually ended with a field goal.

    The luck came much later when cornerback Nickell Roby-Coleman bulldozed Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis, a blatant display of pass interference as he was desperately trying to save a touchdown, but no flag was thrown. The Saints settled for a field goal.

    That non-call could give this NFC Championship game an asterisk and a reason for the Saints and their fans to gripe, but it should not take away from the team the Rams built, the risks they made along the way — from trading all the way up to draft Jared Goff to become the new face of the franchise upon the move to Los Angeles, to hiring a then 30-year-old Sean McVay as head coach, to the flurry of veteran additions this offseason.

    “What it showed me was, we’re ready. We want to win now,” said defensive end Michael Brockers, the Rams’ longest tenured defensive player.

    When the Rams left the Los Angeles Coliseum after their wild-card round playoff loss to the Falcons last year, they were disappointed, of course, but encouraged. The believed their Super Bowl window had opened, maybe a year earlier than planned, and...
    -01-22-2019, 05:58 AM