In the least surprising news of Monday morning, we have a debate in the media over Jimmy Graham's Hail Mary catch that was waved off because of offensive pass interference. The San Francisco 49ers escaped New Orleans with a 27-24 win over the Saints, but not for nearly killing us all at the end of regulation. The Saints set up for a Hail Mary attempt with 5 seconds, and appeared to have it completed, as Jimmy Graham hauled in the pass.
When all seemed lost, a flag saved the 49ers. Given how penalties have gone this year, it was almost shocking that this call went the 49ers way. Here is the push-off in slow motion.
As soon as the play happened, people were calling it a flop and a sell-job by Cox. Immediately after the game, Graham complained about it, saying that is one reason he left basketball.
"It was definitely not a push-off," Graham said. "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 ... That's why I left basketball."
Perrish Cox spoke with FOXSports.com before the 49ers departed, and had this to say about the play:
"Man, look here, that wasn't a flop at all," Cox told FOX Sports by phone before he and his teammates headed to the airport for the flight home from New Orleans. "If they want to call it that, well, if he didn't push me, it would've been an (interception). People can say what they want. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but we came out with the victory and that's all that matters."
Although Cox might have sold this to some extent, I also wonder about the physics of it. Jimmy Graham is listed at 6'7, 265 pounds, while Perrish Cox is listed at 6'0, 198 pounds. Graham clearly extends his arms, and Cox is pushed a bit out of position. I've seen some say his positioning meant a slight push was enough to send him to the ground. Whether that is the case or not, Graham did clearly extend his arms.
Mike Pereira said it was the right call, and needed to be called every time. In fact, we saw something similar earlier in the game, when Anquan Boldin was called for offensive pass interference.
Boldin did in fact extend his arm on the defender, although they both seemed to be exchanging some measure of contact. However, with the ref right there, I am not entirely surprised OPI was called on Boldin. It was nice to see some measure of consistency in the officiating. There were still some bad calls, but on these two plays, we saw a bit of consistency. Of course, at the end of the day, the 49ers went home with a win and that is all that matters.