Rams stun Saints in overtime to win NFC Championship

Los Angeles Rams players celebrate after overtime of the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Greg Zuerlein hit a 57-yard field goal with 11:47 left in overtime as the Los Angeles Rams advanced to Super Bowl 53 with a 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome Sunday night.

Moments before making the longest field goal in Rams playoff history, Zuerlein nailed a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to send the game into overtime. But New Orleans fans will argue that the game should never have come to that point after the officials appeared to miss a key pass interference call against Nickell Robey-Coleman.

New Orleans appeared to have control of the game after Drew Brees hit Ted Ginn with a 43-yard pass that put the ball at the Rams 13-yard line with two minutes to play. But an incompletion and a run for no gain left the Saints with a third down and 10. Brees lofted a pass into the right flat for Tommylee Lewis, who was leveled by Robey-Coleman before the ball reached the receiver. A pass interference penalty would have given the Saints a first down and the ability to run the clock down so that any field goal attempt would likely have been the final play.

As it happened, Wil Lutz hit a 31-yard field goal with 1:41 remaining to give the Saints a 23-20 lead, but that was enough time for Jared Goff to drive the Rams 45 yards in nine plays to set up Zuerlein’s game-tying heroics.

New Orleans got the ball first in overtime but it ended after three plays when Brees lofted the ball up under pressure, only to see it come down in the arms of John Johnson III at the Los Angeles 46. The Rams were only able to gain 15 yards, but that was just enough room for Zuerlein to send the franchise to its first Super Bowl since the 2001 season, when they were the St. Louis Rams.

The Saints suffered their first home playoff loss with Sean Payton as their head coach and Brees as their quarterback. The Rams became the first road team to win a conference championship game since the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers turned the trick following the 2012 season.

This is a developing story; check back for more updates.

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