Report: Saints say NFL admits incorrect calls by officials

Updated: October 31, 2003, 9:33 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL informed the New Orleans Saints that officials made three incorrect calls in their 23-20 overtime loss to Carolina last Sunday, according to a published report.

Saints coaches told the New Orleans Times Picayune they had been told by the league of the three blown calls, all of which were costly to New Orleans.

Team officials did not return calls from The Associated Press on Friday.

An NFL spokesman said Friday the league would not comment as league policy is not to discuss their communications with teams.

The coaches said the calls were:

-- On Carolina's first possession, quarterback Jake Delhomme should have been called for a safety after he backhanded a pass out of his own end zone as he was being brought down. Referee Mike Carey, the crew chief, initially threw a flag, but picked it up, ruling an eligible receiver was in the vicinity.

-- In the fourth quarter, Saints cornerback Fred Thomas was called for defensive pass interference against Walter Young. Instead of a first-and-goal at the Saints' 18, the Panthers had a first-and-goal at the 1. On the next play, Stephen Davis scored the go-ahead touchdown. The coaches said the officials admitted that Young initiated the contact by pulling Thomas' helmet.

-- In overtime, the coaches said officials said Panthers linebacker Lester Townes should have been called for defensive holding when he tackled running back Deuce McAllister in pass coverage. No penalty was called, and quarterback Aaron Brooks scrambled for a 2-yard gain. The infraction would have given the Saints an automatic first down at the Carolina 38. Instead, they faced a third-and-5 at the Carolina 41. New Orleans reached the 37 on third down but failed to convert a fourth-and-1, setting up Carolina's winning drive.

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