(CBS LA/CBS Local) The Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots will meet in Super Bowl LIII, but their championship game victories have been overshadowed by questions about the officiating and NFL rules in both games.
For the Rams, the controversy surrounds a non-call that took place on the Saints’ final drive of regulation. On 3rd-and-10 from the Rams 13, Drew Brees threw a pass towards the sidelines intended for wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. While the pass was off-target, defender Nickell Roby-Coleman decked Lewis before the ball got near him. No pass interference was called, and the Saints were forced to settle for a field goal. Now, the league is reportedly looking into whether to make pass interference a reviewable play.
For the Patriots, the questions are once again focused on how the league handles overtime. After changing the rules a few years ago to make it so that the team with the ball first had to get a touchdown to end the game, people once again aren’t happy. Now, the argument goes, it’s unfair for the game to come down to a coin toss to determine who gets the ball first. The solution, according to many, would be to allow each team a chance to possess the ball regardless of what happens on the first drive.
With so much conversation about what should and shouldn’t be changed, we caught up with Inside The NFL analyst Phil Simms to get his thoughts. You can catch Phil with fellow analysts Boomer Esiason and Ray Lewis alongside host James Brown every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Showtime.
CBS Local Sports: In the wake of the missed call in the Saints-Rams game, the league is reportedly looking at whether to make pass interference reviewable. Should it be?
Phil Simms: I don’t really have an answer for that yet. They’re going to review pass interference and then they’re going to show slow motion, but you have to be able to see it in real-time to make a decision. But, it will be just like the catch rule and a lot of these rules. One person is going to see pass interference, another is not. Why is that? Because it’s a judgment call.
What they see on the field is entirely different from what TV shows. When you’re on a field and you see it in real-time, it’s different. I think they’re getting into an area where it’s just going to cause more controversy if they do it. But, they’re probably going to do it. Why? Because the public demands it. We’ll have some type of challenge flag for this, I guess, next year, and I just think it is going to cause more trouble… [rather than] straighten things out.
CBS Local Sports: There has also been discussion about the overtime rules, after the Chiefs never saw the ball in OT against the Patriots. How would you like to see the league handle overtime?
Phil Simms: I like the way overtime is right now. I never had a problem with it. When we had it where a field goal or any score would win it, everybody cried about it. So they changed it to where it is now, that you need a touchdown on the opening drive for the game to be over. Everybody said, ‘Oh, that’s much better.’ But now that it happened, there are disgruntled people.
It’s like lighting a fire for TV, media, everybody to talk about it and say that it’s unfair and all this. I don’t see it that way. What would be unfair is, the Patriots score and then the Chiefs get a chance. Well, the Chiefs at that point have a different scenario than the Patriots did. They get four downs to try and match the Patriots score where the Patriots really just had three.
CBS Local Sports: Looking at the Super Bowl matchup now, who do you give the early edge to?
Phil Simms: I don’t give anybody any edge yet. It’s too early. We have 12 more days before the game. It’s going to be exciting. I think the one thing I’m looking forward to is we have so many over-the-top talented guys in this game, and that is going to be fun to watch. I will say this, both teams rounded into shape late in the year. That says something to me. They are both very physical teams, and both are pretty healthy. I think we got the best case scenario for the Super Bowl.
CBS Local Sports: What’s the biggest area of concern for both teams heading into Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta?
Phil Simms: When you’re playing against the Rams, it’s always Aaron Donald. But now his partners have come along with him on the defensive line. Ndamukong Suh, Dante Fowler, and Michael Brockers all have been outstanding in the two playoff games.
Biggest concern for the Rams? That’s easy, it’s Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels. I think Josh McDaniels sits on Tom Brady’s shoulder and just says, ‘Okay, here we go, Tom. Let’s go do this and that.’ It’s really clever and just amazing how much they can do and how they can attack teams week in and week out, maybe a different way, but always a way that fits them the best.