Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera would have liked for safety Mike Adams to bat down New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees’ fourth-down pass in the final two minutes of the Saints’ 31-26 wild-card win.
Rivera also would have liked for the officials to review the play to make sure Adams actually intercepted it. Actually, Rivera said he “would have loved” for the NFL’s replay center to look at it.
Later Monday, the NFL confirmed the the replay center had done so.
“(NFL vice president of officiating) Al Riveron was able to confirm the interception in New York, and as a result there was no need to stop the game,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told the Observer.
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The situation arose when Saints coach Sean Payton gambled by going for a fourth-and-2 near midfield after the two-minute warning, and Adams picked off Brees’ desperation throw off along the sideline.
Or appeared to.
Replays showed Adams grabbing the ball above his head, but Saints running back Alvin Kamara knocking it out.
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly argued with officials that Adams didn’t have control of the ball. An incompletion would have given Carolina possession at its 47 with 1:51 remaining.
Instead, the Panthers started at their 31 before driving into Saints’ territory after officials ruled an interception and then a fumble by Adams out of bounds.
Coaches can’t challenge calls in the final two minutes, although all change-of-possession plays are automatically reviewed by Riveron in New York.
Rivera said he told the side judge that officials should review it.
“I said, ‘Hey, you guys need to take a look at that because I’m being told he dropped the ball.’ And he just said, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” Rivera said Monday. “And he actually did say something into his mic. I have no idea what he said. But I did bring it up. I got no information on that (play).”
The Panthers got the yards back on the next play on Devin Funchess’ 19-yard catch.
But the Panthers took issue with another call a few plays later – an intentional grounding on Cam Newton when the quarterback was under heavy pressure.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said he heard other officials trying to convince referee Tony Corrente that Newton was out of the pocket and he should pick up the flag.
Rivera said he thought Newton was “outside the right tackle frame when he threw the ball.”
The officiating aside, Rivera said the Panthers had their opportunities to win the game in the final minute and didn’t get it done.