U.S. judge declines to order NFL to replay Saints-Rams game


FILE PHOTO: Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell is pictured at an event in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday refused to order the National Football League to replay the conference title game, where the Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints and gained entry to the Super Bowl after a critical missed call by officials.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan in New Orleans said the Saints season-ticket holders who sued had no right to compel the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell to enforce league rules that could reverse the game’s outcome or cause its rescheduling.

Morgan ruled on an expedited basis, with the Rams slated to oppose the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the NFL and Goodell did not immediately respond to similar requests.

Morgan’s decision will likely scuttle the long-shot effort to undo the Rams’ 26-23 overtime victory in the Jan. 20 National Football Conference championship.

Saints fans have said their team lost a chance to win in regulation when officials failed to call pass interference or helmet penalties on a Rams cornerback who leveled a Saints receiver with less than two minutes to play, and the score tied.

Goodell told reporters on Wednesday that the league understood fans’ frustration with the “no-call,” and conceded that the controversial play “should have been called.”

He also said the NFL may expand instant replay, but that coaches and clubs have historically been “very resistant” to allowing challenges to plays where no penalties were called.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio

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