Sean Payton entered his post-game press conference on Sunday trying not to talk about the referees.
But one mistake in particular still stuck with him on Monday.
Carolina broke the huddle with 12 men on the field on two occasions, and at one point, lined up with 12 men.
“Man, (the switch) is not flipped yet,’ Payton said. “I’ll be honest with you, just getting off the phone with (NFL vice president of officiating) Dean (Blandino) and the league office. There are three different times where there are 12 guys that, literally, break the huddle.”
Payton initially tried not to comment on the 12-men issues on Sunday.
“I’m not going to get into the officiating,” Payton said on Sunday. “I said walking into this door I was not going to get into it. And it happened twice, 12 (men) on the field, clearly, and they’re getting that right on Friday nights.”
All three mistakes by the referees came in key situations: Cam Newton’s fourth-and-1 bootleg for 30 yards, a goal-line situation that the Saints challenged and a third-and-5 on the Panthers’ game-winning drive.
“The fourth-and-one becomes fourth-and-six. That’s the first time that it happens,” Payton said. “(On the goal-to-go situation), they put 12 on the line of scrimmage. 12 break the huddle and 12 go to the line of scrimmage. The third time around, it happens on the final game-winning drive. They break the huddle and player 12 continues onto the sideline.”
Payton made it clear he doesn’t believe the penalties cost the Saints what would have been a monumental upset.
But they didn’t help.
“It’s frustrating, but again, we don’t make excuses,” Payton said. “That is not why (we lost). You’re just angry because those were critical situations.”
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