We here at 3Down like to complain about CFL officiating with some regularity but this seems as good a time as any to point out that they are hardly the only sports league who has trouble enforcing the rules and regulations from time to time.

But to their credit, at least the CFL has taken some steps to make sure bad pass interference calls – or non-calls – have a fighting chance of being made right via the challenge system, something the NFL might have to consider after Sunday’s debacle in the NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams.

With the game tied and under two minutes to go, the Saints faced third-and-10 from the Rams’ 13-yard line. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees looked to connect with receiver Tommylee Lewis, the one-time Calgary Stampeder, but Los Angeles defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman crashed into him before the ball got there (it was helmet-to-helmet, too.) There was no flag for what was clearly a pass interference and the missed call started a chain of events that pushed the game to overtime where the Rams ultimately emerged with the win.

Here’s the play, which Robey-Coleman has already admitted was pass interference.

Like the CFL, the NFL has a challenge system that allows coaches to ask for a replay review of certain plays. Unlike the CFL, however, pass interference isn’t on the list of reviewable infractions so all Saints head coach Sean Payton could do was go all Jason Maas on the sideline.

After the game, Payton said he spoke to the league and they admitted they blew they call.

In the last few years, the CFL has been an innovator when it comes to the use of replay and while it’s hardly been an unqualified success, the bottom line is that Payton would have been able to challenge the call in the CFL (assuming he still had his challenge and a time out.) And while the Canadian command centre has hardly been perfect over the years, that one seemed straightforward enough.

Changes in how professional sports are officiated often come after something goes terribly wrong: the CFL put an extra striped shirt on the field last season after a series of headshots against quarterbacks went unpunished. After a blown call that likely cost a team a Super Bowl birth, it will be interesting to see if the NFL follows the CFL’s lead when it comes to adding pass interference to the list of things that coaches can challenge.

And, as Chris Jones newsbreaker @CFL_News points out, the CFL made pass interference  reviewable after non-call in the 2013 East Semi-Final between Hamilton and Montreal (that crazy wind game in Guelph.)

And no, the NFL’s colossal screw up does not exonerate the CFL for their litany of mistakes, which cost a team a playoff win as recently as 2016. The solution is for both leagues to be better.

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Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards has covered the CFL for 10 seasons and is the founder and editor of 3DownNation. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.