Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, also explained why officials made that call quickly. Riveron credited Fox for supplying the league with a few angles of the play. That footage allowed the league to come to a quick conclusion regarding the catch.
The play in question occurred with 10:40 to go in overtime. With the Minnesota Vikings on the 4-yard line, Kirk Cousins threw a fade pass to Rudolph in the back of the end zone. Rudolph and Williams fought for position, and Rudolph came down with the catch easily. The play gave the Vikings the 26-20 win and eliminated the Saints from the playoffs.
While Riveron is confident in his assessment of the play, Saints fans aren’t likely to be pleased by the league’s explanation. From some angles, it looked as though Rudolph shoved Williams.
At least one Saints player seems to agree. While star receiver Michael Thomas didn’t tweet about his displeasure, he “liked” a fair amount of tweets suggesting Rudolph committed offensive pass interference following the game.
It doesn’t help that this is the second straight season in which the Saints have been eliminated from the playoffs thanks to a questionable non-call. The Saints lost to the Los Angeles Rams last season after Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman made contact with Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis too early. The refs did not penalize Robey-Coleman on the play, and the Saints had to settle for a game-tying field goal. The Rams eventually won in overtime.
As a result, New Orleans spent the entire offseason lobbying the league to make pass interference reviewable. The Saints got their wish, but even that wasn’t enough to save them Sunday.
The best photos from the NFL playoffs
The best photos from the NFL playoffs
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during warmups before the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 04: Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball against the New England Patriots in the second quarter of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 04: Logan Ryan #26 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates his touchdown against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 05: Alexander Mattison #25 of the Minnesota Vikings is tackled by Marshon Lattimore #23 and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson #22 of the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 05: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is hit by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 05, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 05: D.K. Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass for a touchdown in the third quarter of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on January 05, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Jan 4, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Duke Williams (82) catches a pass against Houston Texans cornerback Gareon Conley (22) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card NFL Playoff game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) pulls in the game winning touchdown pass over New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) during overtime of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in New Orleans. The Vikings won 26-20. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts as Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) celebrates after Brees fumbled, turning over the ball in field goal range, in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)