New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said the NFL admitted they "blew the call" in Sunday's controversial NFC championship defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams reached Super Bowl LIII thanks to a dramatic 26-23 victory, overshadowed by a no-call on what appeared to be pass interference late in the contest.
Had Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman been called for pass interference on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, New Orleans might have gone on to score the winning touchdown.
At the very least, the Saints would have been able to run the clock down and attempt the game-winning field goal.
Instead, New Orleans kicked a field goal, and the Rams marched down the field and kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein sealed the deal in OT with a 57-yarder.
Payton contacted the league office afterwards and told reporters: "Just getting off the phone with the league office. It was simple, they blew the call.
"They said, 'There never should not have been a call.' They said not only was it interference, it was helmet-to-helmet. They couldn't believe it."
Payton added: "I don't know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference."
The Saints finished the regular season first in the NFC, but have now suffered two consecutive postseason defeats in dramatic fashion.
The play will be debated for years to come, but New Orleans will be forced to watch the Super Bowl from home.
Los Angeles will face the winner of the AFC championship game - either the New England Patriots or Kansas City Chiefs - on the world's biggest stage on February 3.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said: "It's a tough pill to swallow."