Well, here we go again.
The Vikings surprised the football world on Sunday when Kirk Cousins connected with Kyle Rudolph on a 4-goal line slot in the end zone, giving Minnesota a 26-20 overtime win in New Orleans.
But it wouldn’t be Saints football play unless it comes with a little controversy. Rudolf, who met with GG Williams seemed to extend his hand, giving him enough breathing space to make the sealing game. No intervention flags were dropped, despite the referee being at the top of the game.
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There was a clear battle between Williams and Rudolph, but it seemed that Rudolph got the better end of the exchange, taking some distance between him and Williams in the grab of the touchdown.
It is illegal for an offensive player to extend his or her hand and create a clear separation from the defender. That was OPI. #MINvsNO
– Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) January 5, 2020
The game, of course, did not go into review: a rule applied for the 2019 season suggests that passing interference calls – both offensive and defensive – can be started by officials on the stand.
The NFL chief confirmed after the game he swore to let the call stand, believing that it was not enough to overturn (or revise) the call.
“All corners of the final game of #MINvsNO were dealt with in New York – there is contact from both players, but none of these contacts reach the level of a foul.” – AL pic.twitter.com/FvnuA3I4cs
– NFL Manager (@NFLOfficiating) January 5, 2020
Ironically, this change was triggered by the 2018 NFC Championship game, when Rams defense behind Nickell Robey-Coleman leveled wide receiver Saints Tommylee Lewis in a clear interference interference violation. The referees kept the flags in their pockets, leading to the rule change.
This is the third straight playoff run for the Saints, which has sunk into some minor drama. In 2017, the Minneapolis miracle sent the Saints home with a loss, while this infamous campaign at the 2018 NFC Championship matchup led to more controversy in 2019.
Needless to say the Twitter rules experts were in place, offering views from all corners of the football world:
… and that’s why the PAss Challenge rule is awesome: they steal my joy and my emotions at the most critical moment of the game, while waiting for a review
– Joe Thomas (@ joethomas73) January 5, 2020
Before the PI review, no one could complain about a push by Rudolph. Now that PI is “revisable”, it takes the twitter rage
– Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) January 5, 2020
This is absolutely a boost for Kyle Rudolph. Why even say that intervention is blocked when you don’t look at it?
– Sam Webb (@ SamWebb77) January 5, 2020
Time for Al Riveron with the mother of all makeup calls.
Rudolf returned his hand.
– Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 5, 2020
Rudolph was completely removed.
– John Hendrix (@JohnJHendrix) January 5, 2020
The Vikings are moving on and will play the 49ers in San Francisco next week.