NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told the NFL Network that officials made the correct call when they flagged New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham for offensive pass interference during Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
On the final play of regulation, with the score tied at 24, New Orleans had the ball on San Francisco's 47-yard line and Drew Brees found Graham in the end zone as time expired. The play was nullified after Graham was called for offensive pass interference after shoving 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox to the turf.
"Yes, Jimmy Graham should have been flagged," Blandino told the NFL Network. "We'll take a look at the play. And you don't see pass interference on Hail Marys very often, but he puts both hands in the back of the defender, extends his arms and creates that separation to catch the pass.”
San Francisco won the game in overtime, 27-24, on Phil Dawson’s 35-yard field goal with 5 minutes left in the extra period.
Graham said that he didn’t push off on the play, but replays showed that Graham extended his arms and made contact with Cox, causing him to fall.
Blandino said there has been talk about whether the penalty should have been called because it occurred at the end of the game and on a Hail Mary play.
"Typically, you don't see pass interference, but that's when players are jockeying for position where we do allow some contact, but here, a two-handed shove in the back to create separation, that foul has to be called,” Blandino said.
- Scooby Axson