Once again, we’re getting some questionable officiating in a New Orleans Saints playoff game. A few moments ago, a very questionable call was the difference between great field position for Drew Brees, and the team starting out deep in Minnesota Vikings territory.
Early in the third quarter, the Saints defense forced a three-and-out against Kirk Cousins’ offense. The Vikings punted to Deonte Harris, who had a huge 50-yard reception earlier in the game, and he had a very nice 23-yard return to the Minnesota 43.
Down three, the Saints appeared to be just a few yards out of game-tying field goal range, at worst. Instead, a blindside blocking penalty on JT Gray brought things all the way back.
That’s a brutal penalty to draw in a situation like that, but reply makes it look pretty questionable.
As Indianapolis Star writer Gregg Doyel points out, the Viking blocked on the play clearly braced for the block, which makes it hard to sell as a “blindside” play.
How can that be a “blindside block” when the guy getting blocked starts to brace for it? pic.twitter.com/vfgZ9BIp23
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) January 5, 2020
INstead of being in Vikings territory to start the drive, the Saints went for a grant total of -1 yards on the drive, and punted back to Minnesota.
Minnesota put together one of the best drives in a largely offense-deficient game, going 64 yards in eight plays. Dalvin Cook punished in the touchdown to extend the lead to 20-10.
There is still plenty of time left in this game, but with the way these two defensives have played, that punt return penalty looms large.
Saints fans are no strangers to controversial calls in the postseason. This isn’t as glaring as last year’s horrid end to the Rams game, but the denizens in the Superdome certainly aren’t thrilled.