Some of 2019’s most mem­o­rable games de­cided by blown calls

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By PAUL NEWBERRY AP Na­tional Writer

The New Or­leans Saints looked around in dis­be­lief, search­ing for a yel­low flag that never came dur­ing the NFL play­offs.

The Auburn Tigers were sure they’d get the ball after a Vir­ginia player ap­peared to dou­ble-drib­ble in the clos­ing sec­onds of a thrilling Fi­nal Four game, but the refs let it go.

Not long after, the guys in stripes weren’t so lax, whistling a dis­puted foul that sent the Cava­liers to the line for the win­ning free throws.

Some of the year’s most mem­o­rable games were de­cided by con­tro­ver­sial calls — or, per­haps it would be more ap­pro­pri­ate to say, the calls that didn’t get made.

Let’s take a look back at the Top 10 from 2019:

BAYOU BUN­GLE

The Los Angeles Rams ad­vanced to the Su­per Bowl with an over­time win against the Saints that would not have been pos­si­ble with­out an egre­gious mis­take by the of­fi­cials in the clos­ing min­utes of reg­u­la­tion.

Los Angeles cor­ner­back Nick­ell Robey-Cole­man com­mit­ted a bla­tant in­ter­fer­ence penalty with a hel­met-to-hel­met hit on Tom­mylee Lewis well be­fore the pass

ar­rived in­side the 5, forc­ing the Saints to set­tle for Wil Lutz’s 31-yard field goal.

“I got away with one,” Robey-Cole­man con­ceded.

Jared Goff had enough time to lead the Rams down the field for Greg Zuer­lein’s ty­ing field with 15 sec­onds re­main­ing.

Then Zuer­lein won it, 2623, with a 57-yard kick in over­time.

“It hap­pened right there in front of the per­son who would be the one to make the call, and ev­ery­one in the stands saw it, ev­ery­one watch­ing at home on TV saw it,” Saints quar­ter­back Drew Brees said.

In re­sponse to the up­roar, the NFL changed its rules to al­low video re­views of in­ter­fer­ence calls, though that has seem­ingly led to even more con­fu­sion and com­plaints this sea­son.

FI­NAL FOUR TWOSTEP

One year after be­com­ing the first top seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, Vir­ginia ap­peared headed for more heart­break in the NCAA Tour­na­ment.

The Cava­liers squan­dered a 10-point lead in the fi­nal five min­utes to Auburn. But they man­aged to pull it out, with a big help­ing hand from the of­fi­cials.

Vir­ginia’s Ty Jerome ap­peared to dou­ble-drib­ble for what could have been a de­ci­sive turnover. Or Jerome might have been fouled be­fore the mis­han­dle. There was no whis­tle for ei­ther.

With 1.5 sec­onds left and in need of some magic, Vir­ginia got the ball to Kyle Guy in the cor­ner. He turned and fired as Samir Doughty, hands straight up in the air, bumped into Guy’s hip. The shot was short, bounc­ing off the rim as Auburn started to cel­e­brate. Game over? Nope. Of­fi­cial James Breed­ing called a foul on Doughty, send­ing Guy to the freethrow line. He calmly knocked down all three shots to give Vir­ginia a dis­puted 63-62 win. Two nights later, in an­other over­time thriller, the Cava­liers cap­tured their first na­tional ti­tle by beat­ing Texas Tech.

“We kind of thought we had it sealed,” Auburn’s Bryce Brown said. “I just didn’t agree with the call.”

PAVEL­SKI PAY­BACK

Auburn and New Or­leans weren’t the only teams to gripe about the of­fi­ci­at­ing,

The NHL sea­son ended for the Ve­gas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the play­offs after a ma­jor penalty sparked the San Jose Sharks to a 5-4 over­time vic­tory.

On a face­off in San Jose’s of­fen­sive zone with Las Ve­gas lead­ing 3-0 mid­way through the third pe­riod, Cody Eakin cross-checked

Sharks cap­tain Joe Pavel­ski in the chest. Paul Stastny then bumped Pavel­ski as he fell to the ice, his hel­met slam­ming down. Pavel­ski was knocked out and bleed­ing on the ice.

The of­fi­cials hud­dled as a dazed Pavel­ski was helped to the locker room. They gave Eakin a five-minute ma­jor for cross-check­ing and a game mis­con­duct.

The Golden Knights were livid — es­pe­cially after the Sharks erupted for four goals dur­ing those five min­utes with an ex­tra skater.

“They called five min­utes for that?” Ve­gas for­ward Jonathan Marches­sault said. “It’s a joke, that’s what it is.”

The Golden Knights tied the game with a goal late in reg­u­la­tion, but Bar­clay Goodrow’s over­time goal won it for the Sharks, 5-4.

“The boys got to­gether and said this is for Pavs,” San Jose’s Joe Thorn­ton said. “It was just a mat­ter of will, and we willed that one for him.”

The Sharks be­came just the sec­ond team ever to over­come a three-goal deficit in the third pe­riod to win a Game 7.

As for the Golden Knights, they had to be con­tent with a call from the NHL apol­o­giz­ing for a penalty that was too harsh.

MIR­A­CLE AT AN­FIELD

Add an­other en­try to Liver­pool’s long list of sto­ried come­backs.

This time, Lionel Messi and mighty Barcelona were on the re­ceiv­ing end in the semi­fi­nals of soccer’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons League.

After romp­ing to a 3-0 win in the first game of the home-and-home, to­tal-goals se­ries, Barca seemed a lock for the fi­nal.

But, back on their home turf at An­field, Liver­pool pulled off a stun­ning 4-0 vic­tory that pro­pelled the club to its sixth Euro­pean ti­tle.

“This club has a big heart, and tonight the heart was pound­ing like crazy,” man­ager Juer­gen Klopp said. “You could feel it all over the world.”

Twenty-four hours later, Tot­ten­ham over­came a three-goal half­time deficit on the road, stun­ning Ajax in the other Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nal.

“We saw Liver­pool last night,” Tot­ten­ham full­back Danny Rose said. “It goes to show it’s not over un­til it is over.”

SU­PER OVER

After more than nine stom­ach-churn­ing hours, the first Su­per Over in Cricket World Cup his­tory — and per­haps the most ex­tra­or­di­nary over ever played — came down to one last ball.

Eng­land calmly pre­vailed in the fad­ing sun­light of Lord’s as New Zealand’s des­per­ate scram­ble to score what would have been the win­ning run came up short. So ended the home team’s ag­o­niz­ing 44-year wait to be crowned world cham­pion of the sport it in­vented.

“The most ridicu­lous game of cricket to have ever been played,” said Jos But­tler, Eng­land’s wick­et­keeper.

“The guys are shat­tered,” coun­tered New Zealand cap­tain Kane Wil­liamson. “It’s dev­as­tat­ing.”

FOL­LOW THE BOUNC­ING BALL

Kawhi Leonard got the bounce. Then an­other. Then an­other. And, yes, one more.

Fi­nally, the shot fell through, giv­ing the Toronto Rap­tors a 92-90 vic­tory that bounced the Philadel­phia 76ers out of the NBA play­offs.

Leonard’s shot from the cor­ner over Joel Em­biid was the first win­ning buzzer­beater in a Game 7 in NBA his­tory. The ball danced on the rim four times be­fore drop­ping. It was quite a capper to Leonard’s 41-point mas­ter­piece.

The Rap­tors would go on to claim their first NBA ti­tle by beat­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pion Golden State War­riors.

“It was great,” Leonard said. “It was a bless­ing to be able to get to that point and make that shot and feel that mo­ment.”

ME­GAN’S MO­MENT

Me­gan Rapi­noe capped a re­mark­able year of sport­ing ex­cel­lence and so­cial ac­tivism by lead­ing to United States to its sec­ond straight

Women’s World Cup ti­tle.

Rapi­noe broke a score­less tie in the fi­nal with a sec­ond­half penalty kick, and the Amer­i­cans went on to beat the Nether­lands 2-0.

Rapi­noe won the Golden Ball as top player and the Golden Boot as top scorer in the month-long tour­na­ment, but her im­pact went far be­yond the field. She sparred with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and was one of the lead­ing voices on a squad that loudly de­manded equal pay with the men’s team.

“We’re such a proud and strong and de­fi­ant group of women,” Rapi­noe said.

Her trade­mark vic­tory pose, look­ing sky­ward with arms out­stretched, also be­came a world­wide sen­sa­tion.

BRAVE BLOS­SOMS

In the wake of Typhoon Hag­ibis, host Ja­pan turned in a thor­oughly in­spir­ing per­for­mance at the Rugby World Cup in its fi­nal group stage match against Scot­land.

A brilliant dis­play by the team known as the “Brave Blos­soms” gave them a big half­time lead. Then they held off a fu­ri­ous Scot­tish come­back to pre­serve a 2821 vic­tory.

Ja­pan ad­vanced to the quar­ter­fi­nals for the first time. Even though they lost to even­tual cham­pion South Africa, their tour­na­ment run was just what their bat­tered na­tion needed after the fe­ro­cious storm.

GERALD HER­BERT - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo, Los Angeles Rams de­fen­sive back Nick­ell RobeyCole­man (23) breaks up a pass in­tended for New Or­leans Saints wide re­ceiver Tom­mylee Lewis (11) late in the sec­ond half of the NFC cham­pi­onship NFL foot­ball game in New Or­leans. The Rams won 26-23.

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