They say confession is good for the soul, but Nickell Robey-Coleman, giddy and unremorseful, seemed to be enjoying his time in the postgame confessional far too much.
Did the Los Angeles Rams cornerback interfere with receiver Tommylee Lewis on the play that will live forever in Saints infamy?
Tommylee Lewis said he saw what everybody else saw.
“In my mind, yes, I thought there was going to be a flag,” Robey-Coleman bluntly answered, after the Rams’ 26-23 victory in overtime.
Did he see the football as it descended towards Lewis’ hands at the 5-yard line?
“No, I never saw the ball,” he confessed.
So what about the replay, someone asked Robey-Coleman? Surely he saw that.
“Nope, have not seen the replay,” the Rams defender said, though he had to know that the Superdome video boards replayed the play more than a half-dozen times.
“No,” he continued. “We do not want to see the replay. Let's just go find the bus and get on the plane.”
The Rams are headed to the Super Bowl, and their coach isn't about to complain about a highly criticized no-call that helped them get there.
Like the rest of the Rams, Robey-Coleman was wearing a broad smile and a T-shirt that read “NFC Champions.” The consensus in the celebrating locker room seemed to be that the non-call in the final two minutes of regulation time was just one play of many that could have decided this conference championship game.
“There probably was interference on that play because I didn’t play the ball,” Robey-Coleman explained, realizing that the people asking him the questions seemed to have seen multiple replays of his transgression.
Can't see video below? Click here.
“What I would say is, I seen his hands go up,” he said, “and that's why I hit him. I guess I got up, and the referee was like, ‘Incomplete, incomplete.’ I think he was, like, it was tipped a little bit. I don't know. That’s what they told me on the sideline. The D-lineman said somebody tipped the ball.”
Replays showed otherwise, of course. So Robey-Coleman shifted to a heavenly intervention version of the events.
“Definitely, definitely,” he said. “I came to the sidelines, looked at the football gods and said, ‘Thank you, football gods. Thank you.’
“Hey, it is what it is."
"It was a bang-bang type play," Rams coach Sean McVay called it. “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.”
At one end of the winners’ locker room, tackle Andrew Whitworth, the 13-year veteran from LSU, was praising the performance of his young quarterback, Jared Goff.
“The way he played today, I just can't say enough about him,” Whitworth said. “He was amazing. To come into this arena, to beat Drew Brees in this arena. This is one special place to play. These guys are really good here and really hard to beat. You just can’t say enough about Jared's play today, and that he was able to pull this off.”
Goff completed 25 of 40 passes for 297 yards, no throw likely bigger than a 16-yard completion to Robert Woods that pushed the Rams to the Saints 33 with 53 seconds left in regulation. Kicker Greg Zuerlein tied the game four snaps later, sending it into overtime.
The crowd noise in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome had been deafening, Whitworth said.
“But you know what?” he said. “I just got through telling our owner that that’s as loud as I've ever experienced a place, and then as deafeningly silent as I've ever experienced, when that thing went in the air and everyone saw it was going in. Amazing.”
Saints coach Sean Payton didn't mince words about the "game-changing call" that wasn't made as the Saints drove late in the fourth-quarter of …
It’s not the first time that Whitworth has celebrated a championship in the Superdome.
“I completed the trifecta,” he reminded. “Won championships here at every level — high school, college national championship at LSU and now we win the NFC and get to go to the Super Bowl. Pretty cool.”
The rest of the Rams, meanwhile, seemed content to just take this one and get back to LA, city of Hollywood endings.
Someone asked Robey-Coleman if he realized that his play was likely to become a part of NFL film lore, maybe for all the wrong reasons.
“Yeah, they're going to show that forever,” he agreed. “New Orleans is going to hate me.
“But it's fine. I'm going back to LA.
“Hey, Saints fans, I'm sorry. You heard what the ref said. Respect the call.”
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.