Miami Dolphins

Gruden: Saints losing Super Bowl shot due to official’s gaffe will ‘sting forever’

Payton on controversial pass interference non-call: ‘They blew the call’

Sean Payton told reporters he was frustrated by the officials not calling a pass interference on the Rams late in the game that would have given the Saints a fresh set of downs. The Saints lost to the Rams 26-23 in overtime of the NFC Championship.
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Sean Payton told reporters he was frustrated by the officials not calling a pass interference on the Rams late in the game that would have given the Saints a fresh set of downs. The Saints lost to the Rams 26-23 in overtime of the NFC Championship.

Jon Gruden’s first run as Raiders coach ended with perhaps the most controversial play of the past 20 years.

So 17 years after the infamous Tuck Rule game, he still feels for coaches who lose because of an official’s whim.

That’s why he reached out to Saints coach Sean Payton Monday to commiserate. Payton’s Saints lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game because an official missed a blatant pass interference call on Nickell Robey-Coleman.

The Saints should have been able to run out the clock and kick a field goal at the gun. Instead, the Rams go the ball back, forced overtime and won.

“If you really want to dwell on it, you don’t ever get over that,” Gruden said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, where he’s serving as the coach of the North team. “It’s the last time that team will ever be together. It will never be the same. Those guys fought as long and as hard as they could. It’ll sting forever.”

The NFL is reportedly considering changing the rule to make such an exchange a reviewable play, and count 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan among those in favor.

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“It’s obviously pass interference, but they missed it,” said Shanahan, the coach of the South team this week. “That happens a lot. You get used to it as a coach and you’ve got to deal with it sometimes.

“I’d like to see, when things are obvious and everyone in the world knows, to do whatever it takes to get it right.”

Added Gruden: “It’s a disappointing way to lose a game. I don’t know what the ramifications of that are going to be. We all saw it. We all know there will be some action taken, I am sure.”

Ex-Dolphins defensive line coach Kris Kocurek didn’t need long to get back on his feet after Adam Gase was fired. Shanahan was quick to snap Kocurek up, hiring him for the same position in San Francisco.

“I was very excited that he came available. He was a guy who I have respected for a long time,” Shanahan said. “I played against his style of coaching for a long time, back when I was a coordinator in the AFC South back in 2008. We used to go against that style of defense.

“... It’s a [style] that’s very tough to go against, the way their D-line plays. I heard great things about him and really enjoyed talking to him when we interviewed him.”

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Adam Beasley has covered the Dolphins for the Miami Herald since 2012, and has worked for the newspaper since 2006. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and has written about sports professionally since 1996.
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