Sean Payton loses first pass-interference challenge

Christopher Dabe

NEW ORLEANS — Sean Payton's first challenge of a pass interference penalty came in the third quarter Friday.

After an off-season in which the New Orleans Saints coach spearheaded a rule change that allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls and non-calls, Payton dropped a red challenge flag near the spot where he visibly protested the missed call in the NFC championship last season. 

This time, the challenge came after officials flagged cornerback Kayvon Webster for his defense of Vikings wideout Laquon Treadwell near the goal line. 

"I think the feeling (from coaches) upstairs was there was hand-checking by both (the defender and the receiver)," Payton said after the preseason loss at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Following the review, officials upheld the call. The Vikings scored a touchdown on the next play.

Payton said his placement on the league competition committee gave him good insight to what will be required for calls and non-calls to be overturned. He said officials will "have to see something substantial" to consider overturning a call or non-call.

Had this been a regular season game, Payton might not have made the challenge.

"It's a lot easier to throw those flags in preseason Week 1,” he said.

In the regular season, "you have to have a strong conviction," he said. 

“The one thing that was different tonight is getting accustomed to, 'Hey, we can challenge that.' Then on the other side of it is you're on the receiving end; let's say you're on offense and you come away with a completion and it might be offensive pass interference — getting to the ball quickly and getting the snap (before the other team can challenge). There are a handful of conditions you got to get used to."

The play carried far less significance than the missed call last January that would have put the Saints in position for a winning field goal with little time remaining against the Los Angeles Rams.

On that play, Rams linebacker Nickell Robey-Coleman blasted the Saints' Tommylee Lewis as the ball was in the air but did not get flagged for a penalty that would have put the Saints inside the 10 with less than 2 minutes remaining.

The Saints' Webster was not with the team last season. 

He's now on his fourth team in the last four seasons, after a four-year stint with the Broncos followed by one season each with the Rams and Texans. He appreciated the challenge made by Payton, saying "it shows that he believed it was a B.S. call."

“All I can do is play my technique,” Webster said. “They taught us when a receiver is going up for the ball, you look back, and as long as you play though the hands, you should be safe. But obviously they called that a pass interference, and (I've) just got to get better."