Saints suffer another officiating error vs. Rams

LOS ANGELES -- Believe it or not, the New Orleans Saints were victims of yet another officiating error in their Week 2 rematch against the Los Angeles Rams. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan appeared to return a fumble 87 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter Sunday. But officials initially ruled the play as an incomplete pass by Jared Goff, so they whistled the play dead.

The Saints challenged the call, and replay showed that Goff indeed fumbled the ball when it was stripped from behind by defensive end Trey Hendrickson. But the Saints had to take over at their own 13-yard line and did not score on the ensuing drive.

It was unclear if any Rams players would have been in position to chase Jordan down if the whistle had not been blown, but he had a clear path to the end zone after scooping up the loose ball in stride.

Sunday's call pales in comparison to the infamous missed pass interference call that helped the Rams beat the Saints in January's NFC Championship Game -- which led to groundbreaking replay rule changes in the offseason. But this remains a disturbing pattern for the Saints, who also were the victims of an embarrassing gaffe by the officials in their season-opening 30-28 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football.

In that game, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, Al Riveron, admitted that officials incorrectly forgot to reset the play clock in the final minute of the first half after a replay review -- which cost the Saints 15 precious seconds and led to a missed 56-yard field goal attempt.

When asked about the play on Sunday, coach Sean Payton immediately said the Saints can't focus on that and need to focus on "the things we can control." But he still took a jab at the officials during his response.

"When we get poor officiating or we get an awful call like that, we can't control that," Payton said.

Jordan, meanwhile, made a "Foot Locker" reference while taking a not-so-subtle shot at the official himself.

"Normally you let the play happen. Any Foot Locker -- I mean referee -- tells you that you let the play happen and then you go back and review the play. That's a 10-point swing right there. ... Seems like it's affect the game, right?"

Jordan said he was "absolutely positive" that it was a fumble and not an incomplete pass.

"Hence, why there was no slowdown by anybody. Everybody was full-go. Everybody understood what happened," said Jordan, who then quickly added, "I shouldn't say everybody.

"People are in their prime when they're in their prime. And sometimes they're not in their prime, but they were in their prime maybe a decade ago."

Riveron told a pool reporter after the game that officials are indeed instructed that "when in doubt, to let it play out."

"Mechanically and philosophically, we tell the referees to let it play out because we can always come back and make it an incomplete pass," Riveron said. "[But] as it happened here, we blow the whistle early, so the most we can do is give the ball to the defense with a clear recovery."