New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday that the NFL refused to postpone Monday's game against the Miami Dolphins despite the Saints having 18 active-roster players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Appearing on WWL Radio in New Orleans (h/t ProFootballTalk's Michael David Smith), Loomis suggested that the NFL took a hardline stance against postponement well before the game was played:
"I don't know what the reasoning is in New York. Those decisions are made at the league level. But we were told pretty early on that the game wasn’t going to be postponed and just had to deal with it. That was their solution: Play the game no matter what. We don't have to like it, but we have to live with it."
With the New Orleans roster decimated by COVID-19 absences, the Saints were thoroughly dominated by the Dolphins in a 20-3 loss.
Some of the most notable Saints players absent for Monday's game because of COVID-19 protocols were quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, safety Malcolm Jenkins, linebackers Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander, and tight ends Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson.
Starting offensive tackle Terron Armstead also missed the game with a knee injury.
The quarterback position is where New Orleans was hurt most, as not having Hill or Siemian available meant head coach Sean Payton had to turn to rookie fourth-round pick Ian Book under center.
Book was under siege all night against an aggressive Dolphins defense, going 12-of-20 for 135 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, including a pick six. Book was also sacked eight times.
The Saints were undoubtedly at a competitive disadvantage, and Loomis intimated that it hurt the integrity of the game, saying:
"If we had seven or eight or 10 COVID positives, we can handle that. When you have 18 active players and four of your practice squad players test positive for COVID, it's just too much to overcome, frankly. It wasn't fair to the players. It wasn't fair to our coaching staff, and certainly not the fans."
To make matters worse, the game was hugely important for both teams, as they both entered with a 7-7 record and were in the thick of their respective playoff races.
By virtue of Miami's win, which was its seventh in a row, it now owns the final wild-card spot in the AFC at 8-7 and controls its own destiny with regard to a playoff berth.
Meanwhile, the 7-8 Saints are one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for the final wild-card position in the NFC and will need some help in order to reach the postseason.
New Orleans activated 11 players from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, and with a far more representative roster in place, it will look to keep its playoff hopes alive with a win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.