On a day when Vikings fans believe their favorite team was screwed by a critical non-call late in a key game the Cowboys won 17-15, the best way to forget about that may be to reflect on the time their favorite team was screwed by a critical non-call late in a key game the Cowboys won 17-14.
Former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, appearing earlier this week on PFT Live, spoke at length regarding the original Hail Mary play that resulted in Dallas beating the Vikings in the playoffs at Metropolitan Stadium 41 Decembers ago.
“[Quarterback Roger Staubach] wanted [receiver] Golden Richards to run a post pattern on the left side to hold [safety] Paul Krause to that side of the field,” Pearson said. “You know, the NFL’s all time interception leader. So Roger was going to pump [to] Golden then come back to me down the right side of the field, and by the time he pumped Golden and came back to me the ball was underthrown because I was way down field at that time. I saw it, came back and used my outside arm to get inside leverage on [cornerback] Nate Wright. In doing that there was contact but there was no deliberate push and I was able to catch the ball on the five yard line and back it into the end zone for the touchdown.”
So was there an inadvertent push, Drew?
“I like the way you put that,” Pearson said with a laugh. “What I’m saying is there’s contact, OK? We’re actually playing football out there; it wasn’t tennis or golf. So in doing that and making that move, there was contact on the play. But there was no deliberate push whatsoever.”
The controversial play, which ended Minnesota’s run of two straight Super Bowls and brought a swift and dramatic conclusion to a season in which the Vikings had started 10-0, has stirred passions among Vikings fans for years. An equivocal admission, sort of, that Pearson pushed Wright won’t make it any better.
The only consolation, albeit slim, for Vikings fans comes from the fact that Pearson fired the ball into the air and never saw it again. When did Pearson regret hurling the football out of the field of play?
“As soon as it left my hands,” Pearson said. “I was actually throwing it over the scoreboard and into the parking lot. The only reason I did that is because the night before the game I had this vision that if I was going to catch the winning touchdown in the game [and] I was going to throw the football into the stands. Which was kind of taboo back in the day back then because you got fined $150 and nobody wanted to pay that type of fine because we weren’t making that type of money back then. As it left my hands I realized it wasn’t going into the stands and into the parking lot and after all these years I’ve signed programs, ticket stubs, I’ve met all kinds of people that were at that game that day but no one has come up to me and said, ‘Hey I found the ball.’ Or, ‘I caught the ball.’ Or, ‘Here’s the ball that you caught the Hail Mary with.’ So it’s out there in oblivion.”
Oblivion. It’s where the ball is. It’s where the 1975 Vikings season went. And, thanks to Thursday night’s loss to the Cowboys, it’s where a Vikings campaign that started at 5-0 is headed. If it’s not already there.