The Saints lost in overtime to the 49ers, but it looked for a moment at the end of regulation like the extra session wouldn’t be necessary.
On the final play of the fourth quarter, Drew Brees heaved a Hail Mary that fell into the arms of tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone and the Superdome went crazy until they noticed a yellow flag on the field. Graham was flagged for pushing off 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox, ending regulation and setting the stage for the San Francisco win. Graham definitely used his hands while trying to gain better position over Cox, but Graham said after the game that he felt it was an incorrect call.
“It was definitely not a push-off,” Graham said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I’m running down the field telling myself, ‘Whatever you do, don’t push off.’ It’s interesting how guys grab me everywhere on the field and I put literally two fingers on somebody and they make that kind of call.”
Graham, who said he felt Cox embellished his fall in hopes of drawing the flag, also tried another tack by complaining that flags are rarely thrown when receivers and defenders are jockeying for position on a Hail Mary.
“The general consensus is, you go down there, you can kick somebody in the chest and go up there and get it and you’ll be fine,” Graham said. “But apparently not.”
There’s nothing Graham can do to change the call now. The Saints, however, have to stop turning the ball over if they want to avoid hoping for miraculous endings and start playing like a team capable of making something of a season that hasn’t played out as anyone in New Orleans hoped coming into the season.