Sean Payton Takes Dig at NFL After Saints' Win: 'Wasn't New York's Best Game'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2019

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks after an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in New Orleans. The Saints defeated the Panthers 34-31. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Bill Feig/Associated Press

Head coach Sean Payton still had something to get off his chest even though the New Orleans Saints escaped with a last-second 34-31 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

"It wasn't our best game, it wasn't their best game and quite honestly it wasn't New York's best game," Payton said in his postgame press conference.

Payton's frustration likely stemmed from a pass interference penalty on Saints safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth quarter that was called after a video review.

Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, explained the decision:

By the letter of the law, Gardner-Johnson was guilty of pass interference. For Saints fans, the issue is that referees have almost never overturned the ruling on the field when it comes to pass interference, even in instances when the defender clearly made contact before the ball arrived.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Drew Brees summed up the general sentiment when he said he has come to expect the initial decision to stand except in extreme circumstances:

The obvious irony is that the Saints are partially responsible for the new pass interference rule. The NFL made the change after New Orleans was the victim of an indisputable missed call in the NFC Championship Game.

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That helped build an us-against-the-world mentality when it came to Saints fans and the NFL as a whole. Many of them dressed as referees for New Orleans' season-opening win over the Houston Texans in a not-so-subtle reference to the conference title game.

The sense of injustice grew when Cameron Jordan's fumble-recovery touchdown was wiped off the board the following week against the Los Angeles Rams because the referees had blown the whistle to stop play.

After Sunday, Riveron shouldn't expect an invite to Payton's home for Thanksgiving.

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