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The Saints got robbed, and have now suffered heartbreaking playoff exits TWO years in a row

If you don’t hurt for the Saints after the way their last two seasons ended, you may not have a soul. (Unless you’re a Falcons fan ... in which case enjoy!)

NFL: NFC Championship Game-Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sports curses aren’t a real thing but I’d understand if Saints fans are asking why they deserve this.

A year and six days after getting the bad end of one of the greatest playoff finishes in NFL (sports?) history, they suffered arguably one of the greatest injustices in NFL history. What looked like a blatantly obvious pass interference penalty to everyone except the attending referees wasn’t flagged. If it had been, the Saints would have almost certainly advanced to the Super Bowl. They could have scored a touchdown, or at worst, run the clock down to well inside a minute before kicking what would have been an easy field goal near the goal-line to take the lead late in the game.

Instead, the Rams had 1:41 and a timeout to run an OT-forcing drive. Drew Brees then threw an ugly interception to give the ball back to the Rams needing only a field goal to win — which Greg Zuerlein promptly did on a 57-yarder.

To recap, the Saints were also eliminated from the playoffs on a walk-off play last year when rookie cornerback Marcus Williams whiffed a tackle on Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, who went 61 yards to the end zone to advance his team to the NFC Championship and send the Saints home.

Sunday’s heartbreak was a touch less dramatic, but perhaps even more nauseating. The Saints were a win away from the Super Bowl with a real chance to win their second title ever. The 2017 team won 11 games and a division title, but it was a No. 4 seed, not a No. 1. The 2018 Saints tied a franchise record with 13 wins, and Drew Brees had one of the most magical seasons of his career, guiding the league’s No. 2 scoring offense while breaking the league’s career passing yards record with a personal best passer rating.

Sean Payton couldn’t contain his heartache after the game.

Those could have easily been his reactions to last season’s loss, too.

And yes, there were plenty of other ways that the Saints could have won Sunday’s game. Drew Brees struggled in the second half and certainly overtime against a keyed-up Rams defense, and the Rams moved the ball consistently following their first possession of the second half.

But then again, the Rams made plenty of their mistakes of their own, including head coach Sean McVay’s decision to kick a field goal on fourth down at the Saints’ 1-yard line with five minutes left in regulation. The Saints were in a position to win when that fateful no-call occurred because McVay had his team play for overtime instead of the win.

I thought the Saints were the better team Sunday. That’s fine if you disagree. And of course, football is a great sport in part because of how fickle and mean and wild it can be.

None of that really matters next to the pain of being a Saints fan right now, though. Everyone should be able to agree that this has to be one of the punishing pair of consecutive playoff exits ever (and if you’re a Falcons fans, feel free to enjoy the hell out of it).

Just remember:

Sports curses aren’t real.

Sports curses aren’t real.

Sports curses aren’t real.