Kirk Cousins probably angered New Orleans Saints fans after he brought up recently the Vikings’ infamous overtime touchdown last year against the team. In an interview on The Pat McAfee Show, the Minnesota quarterback discussed his connection with wide receiver Adam Thielen. He mentioned how Thielen’s earlier catch set up Kyle Rudolph’s game-winning touchdown in New Orleans “that was such an egregious push-off, apparently.”
If you’re a Saints fan, take a deep breath and dream of 2010.
If you’re not familiar with the play, just know it was the second year in a row the Saints a bad pass interference call stole a playoff win from them. Were they? Let’s look at the tape.
Is Kirk Cousins Right or Was There A Push-off?
That Jan. 5, 2020, game had mostly been a defensive contest, SB Nation’s recap says. But a few minutes into overtime, Cousins connected with Thielen on a 43-yard bomb that moved the Vikings to the 2-yard line. That set up this play:
Cousins throws a fade route to Rudolph who turns and extends his arm against the Saints cornerback P.J. Williams. Rudolph leaps and catches the touchdown. The issue is whether Rudolph pushes Williams away with his left arm, which would be illegal. Or did he just extend his arm? The referees allowed the touchdown.
For his part, Rudolph says he didn’t push off.
“Absolutely not. It’s a reviewable play,” he said after the game, according to Fansided. “The rule was changed for (the Saints) because of what happened in the year prior in the exact same stadium. So if anyone was going to get called for OPI in that situation, it was going to be me, in that stadium, because of that rule.
“I had my arm out, but I never pushed. That’s the thing, as an offensive player if I want to keep you there, I’ll keep you there. That’s not a push. They grab, we hand fight, all that. It’s the extension, that’s what gets you. If I just keep you at bay, now I’m not pushing.”
NFL officiating supervisor Al Riveron said officials reviewed the play and found no issue with the no-call.
“None of that contact rises to the level of a foul,” Riveron said, according to USA Today.
But don’t bring that up to a Saints fan. Especially after what had happened before.
A Little Bit of History Repeating
During the 2019 playoffs, the Saints were on the other side of a controversial no-call during the NFC championship game. New Orleans had taken the L.A. Rams into overtime and were driving into Rams’ territory. That’s when it happened.
Quarterback Drew Brees threw a pass TommyLee Lewis that was broken up by a Rams defender Nickell Robey-Coleman. But Robey-Coleman clearly slammed into Lewis long before the ball got there. Fans felt it was a clear-cut case of pass interference, as did most people watching the game. But the referees didn’t throw a flag. And the game continued.
The Rams went on to win and advance to the Super Bowl.