Saints Lose Playoff Game on Final Play For Third Straight Year, This Time Controversial

The New Orleans Saints can't seem to find a break in the playoffs. For the third-consecutive season, and the second straight home playoff game, the Saints lost on the final play of the game. What made the 26-20 loss to Minnesota so gut wrenching on Sunday was how it happened at the end.

Minnesota, the No. 6 seed and final team in the NFC playoff, traveled to No. 3-seed New Orleans and led most of the game. The Vikings defense forced a Drew Brees fumble to halt one Saints drive and intercepted a Brees pass to stop another drive.

New Orleans missed a field goal at the end of the first half that would have tied the game at halftime, but Saints kicker Will Lutz drilled a 49-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

Minnesota won the overtime toss and drove the ball inside the Saints' 5-yard line. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins found tight end Kyle Rudolph on a one-on-one matchup and tossed a fade to the back corner of the end zone. Rudolph brought it down for the touchdown, and the Vikings celebrated.

Meanwhile, the Saints claimed that Rudolph pushed off Saints defensive back P.J. Williams. The call was not reviewed for an offensive pass interference.

One Twitter fan said the NFL analysts for ESPN all agreed Rudolph pushed off for pass interference.

"Everyone on espn is saying that was a OPI not just Saints fans but whatever it's over."

Everyone on espn is saying that was a OPI not just Saints fans but whatever it's over

— WHODAT âšœ (@SaintsFan310) January 5, 2020

NBC analyst and former coach Tony Dungy said a pass interference should have been called, and that's why the rule was put into play last offseason that stated pass interference calls could be reviewed by officials. In addition, all scoring plays are reviewed.

The pass interference rule was put into place after last year's NFC Championship game in New Orleans in which a Saints wide receiver was clearly interfered with by a Los Angeles Rams defender, but no call was made, and the play was not reviewable last season. The Rams wound up winning the game in overtime and advanced to last season's Super Bowl.

The league admitted they missed the call, and it's what led to the new rule for the 2019 season.

Former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz, who is now a media personality, said the play was a good no-call, and that two players were simply "hand fighting" while jockeying for position.

"Can we please stop whining about this call. I mean come on. Both dudes are hand fighting. If this was the 3rd Q of a week 7 game, no one would say anything about this. If you want this overturned, then we need to overturn a ton of catches in the NFL," Schwartz tweeted.

An NFL official said they looked at the play and deemed it contact by both players, but not to the level that would be penalized.

Here is the pool report from #Vikings-#Saints

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2020

The Saints lost on the last play of the game at Minnesota in the playoffs following the 2017 season when Vikings quarterback Case Keenum connected with receiver Stephon Diggs on a wild touchdown pass, and then last year the Saints lost in overtime.

Minnesota will travel to face the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional round next Saturday (January 11). The game will kick off at 4:35 p.m. ET and will be televised on NBC.

New Orleans Saints
Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings makes the game-winning touchdown reception against P.J. Williams #26 of the New Orleans Saints during overtime in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images