Shutting out talks of a "revenge game" and focusing on Sunday’s rematch with the Los Angeles Rams isn’t too difficult for New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who preferred to keep the focus on the present rather than the past this week.
"I think myself, it is easier than you would expect,” Payton said. “It is a different year. It is a different team. It is week two of the regular season.”
When the Saints and the Rams met in the NFC Championship in January, a blown pass interference non-call came to be a defining moment in Los Angeles’ eventual 26-23 overtime win. Even though Los Angeles benefitted from it, McVay and Robey-Coleman both have said pass interference should've been called.
Much like Robey-Coleman, the defender who would’ve been penalized on the play, Payton is ready to move on. He once again noted the changes both teams have undergone since January.
“It feels like it was a long time ago,” Payton said on a conference call with Los Angeles media this week. “It’s part of our game. These are two different teams now, a lot of roster moves from last year to this year. We’re playing each other early in the season, so it doesn’t feel like that many games ago relative to the distance between when we played. You’re looking at two different teams.”
The no-call decision spawned a rule change by the NFL allowing coaches to challenge offensive and defensive pass interference calls as well as non-calls.
Payton wasn’t surprised by what came out of the moment as far as the rule changes go. It’s just standard operating procedure for the league, according to Payton, and he was quick to point out that it isn’t the Saints’ first experience with something like this.
“You go back to 2009 in the NFC Championship game, we won the toss and received the ball and drove down the field and kicked a game winning field goal,” Payton said. “It was that very next year that the other team is going to have the possession if it’s a field goal. That’s kind of the nature of our game.”
The Los Angeles Rams will host the New Orleans Saints for the team's home opener this weekend. Check out the practice photos.
Though the two teams may be different in Payton’s eyes, they still return several of their core contributors that afforded them the chance to cross paths deep into the playoffs and potentially do the same again this season.
That, according to Payton, is what makes this week’s game significant – not what happened eight months ago.
“The importance of the game or the relevance of the game is that you have two real good playoff football teams playing each other from a year ago,” Payton said. “I think that's why it is the afternoon game (on FOX). That's why it's a national TV game. That is what I see.”