Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman has been fined $26,739 by the NFL for a helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis that was not flagged during the NFC Championship Game, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.
The hit happened when Robey-Coleman appeared to run into Lewis before the ball arrived from Saints quarterback Drew Brees on third-and-10 at the Rams’ 13-yard line — a controversial play with 1:45 remaining in a 20-20 game.
A flag for pass interference would have given the Saints a first down, and New Orleans would have had a new set of downs and a chance to run the clock down before attempting a short field goal with less than 20 seconds remaining.
The Rams won 26-23 in overtime to advance to Super Bowl LIII.
No penalty was called, although Saints coach Sean Payton said the NFL’s head of officials told him the officials “blew the call” by not penalizing Robey-Coleman.
“It was simple. They blew the call. They said it should never have not been a call,” Payton said after the game of the explanation he received. “They said not only was it interference, it was helmet-to-helmet. They just — they couldn’t believe it.”
Robey-Coleman admitted he briefly thought the flag would come out but said that an official on the field told him he suspected the ball was tipped, which replays clearly showed was not the case.
The aftermath of the no-call has been significant, with players voicing their disbelief, lawsuits and petitions being filed, billboards on it posted in Atlanta, boycotts throughout the New Orleans area, and a letter from Louisiana’s governor chastising commissioner Roger Goodell.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday that the team had not heard anything from the league office since Sunday night. Loomis also deferred to Saints owner Gayle Benson’s recent statement, in which she vowed to “aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again.”