The New Orleans Saints' gut-wrenching loss in the NFC championship game on Sunday turned into a teaching moment Monday for the LSU basketball team.
In an attempt to make sure his team isn't victimized by a bad call at a crucial time, Tigers coach Will Wade pointed out what they can do to keep that kind of unfortunate incident from happening.
On his weekly radio show Monday night, Wade said he told his players the Saints' game with the Los Angeles Rams shouldn't have come down to a missed call with less than two minutes to play with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
The point of the exercise, Wade said, was that everything matters — not just what happens at a critical time in the game, particularly in the final minutes or seconds.
"Everybody's complaining about the call in the Saints game … which was a bad call," he said. "But the Saints lost that game well before that call."
In a tie game, a blatant pass interference call and helmet-to-helmet hit on wide receiver Tommylee Lewis by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman weren't called by two game officials on the spot and Los Angeles wound up winning in overtime.
The ball was in the air, Tommylee Lewis was turning to catch it -- then he was taken out of the air by Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Either penalty would have given the Saints a first down with 1:45 to play and allowed them to take all but about 13 seconds off the clock before a chip-shot field-goal attempt for the win.
While the no-call hurt, Wade pointed to the Saints having to settle for two field goals in the first quarter after getting to the Rams' 19 and 10, respectively, on their first two possessions.
"The Saints lost that game when they had to kick two field goals early in the game when they could have scored touchdowns," he said.
The Saints managed to score a touchdown on their third possession, so the potential was there for a 21-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
"The call didn't help, but my point to my team was everything matters," Wade said. "(The Saints) could have executed a little bit better, every detail could have been better."
Wade came up with a similar analogy from the AFC championship game.
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford was flagged for lining up in the neutral zone on an interception with 61 seconds to play that could have helped seal a win over the New England Patriots.
Given new life, the Patriots went on to win in overtime.
The lead referee didn't have a strong opinions after the game on a no-call that may have cost the Saints a Super Bowl berth.
"On the interception, the guy (Ford) was offsides by three inches," Wade said. "That was the difference between the Chiefs going to the Super Bowl and the Patriots going to the Super Bowl.
"Every play matters … everything you do matters … every detail matters," he said. "People get caught up a lot about what happens at the end, but games are won or lost well before the end of the game."
That's why his message on Monday was to make sure no shortcuts are taken by his team and that they have to control what they can control.
"Everything we do matters and everything we do is going to be measured," Wade said. "That's really what we're about right now, to try and make sure everything we're doing is at a level requisite to continue to win.
"You have to take it out of those situations. If you put it in other people's hands or put it those type situations, anything can happen. You can be subject to a really bad call like that was."