A blown call by referees cost the New Orleans Saints a defensive touchdown in the second quarter of Sunday's 27-9 loss at the Los Angeles Rams.
With 6:08 remaining in the quarter, Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson stripped the ball from Rams quarterback Jared Goff during his throwing motion at the New Orleans 19. Fellow defensive end Cameron Jordan scooped up the loose ball at the 13, following a few blocks and returning it 87 yards for an apparent touchdown.
However, referees ruled that Goff's arm was going forward when the ball came free, deeming it an incomplete pass and blowing whistles before Jordan's return was complete. The Saints challenged the play, and it was correctly ruled a fumble and a clear recovery for New Orleans upon review, but the return for a touchdown was not permitted because whistles had blown before the play ended.
Jordan could be heard saying on the sideline on the Fox broadcast, "I ran 80 yards for no reason?"
In a video posted on the league's officiating Twitter account, NFL senior vice president of officiating Alberto Riveron explained the reasoning for the reversal from an incomplete pass to a fumble and clear recovery. However, he did not acknowledge the early whistles or the return for a touchdown that was not allowed.
The Saints got the ball at the 13 and drove 35 yards before Alvin Kamara was stuffed on fourth-and-1, giving the Rams the ball back at the New Orleans 48. Los Angeles then drove 44 yards in seven plays for a 22-yard field goal, taking a 6-3 lead into halftime.
New Orleans would have been kicking off to the Rams with a 10-3 lead if the touchdown had been allowed. Los Angeles went on to score three second-half touchdowns while allowing just a field goal, winning by 18 points.
The Saints infamously had issues with the officiating the last time they met the Rams, when a non-call of apparent defensive pass interference kept them from closing out a victory in the NFC Championship Game in January. Los Angeles went on to win in overtime and reach the Super Bowl.
The league changed review rules this offseason to include pass interference for the first time, as a result of the missed call.
New Orleans also was the victim of an officiating mistake in its opener last Monday, as officials managed the clock incorrectly with the Saints driving just before halftime.
--Field Level Media