Jimmy Graham rips TD-nullifying call

ByMike Triplett via ESPN logo
Monday, November 10, 2014

NEW ORLEANS -- Jimmy Graham certainly didn't agree with the offensive pass interference call against him Sunday that nullified a potential game-winning Hail Mary touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers.

"That's why I left basketball, so I could stop being penalized for hitting people," Graham said after the New Orleans Saints wound up losing 27-24 in overtime.

Graham was especially upset that his 47-yard touchdown catch was nullified when he was flagged for pushing off cornerback Perrish Cox.

"It's interesting how guys grab me everywhere on the field, and I put literally two fingers on somebody and you make that kind of call," Graham said. "It was definitely not a push-off.

"You know, I'm running down the field and I'm telling myself not to push off. 'Whatever you do, don't push off. Just go up and get it.'"

Graham said there was "no doubt" that Cox helped sell the call by falling to the ground after they made contact.

"But he's a smart player. And he knows I'm a big guy and attract a lot of attention sometimes. So that's unfortunate," said Graham, who said he has "rarely ever" seen such calls on Hail Marys. "I mean, the general consensus is, you go down there, you can kick somebody in the chest and go up there and go up and get it and you'll be fine. But apparently not."

Graham clearly did get a hand on Cox's back/shoulder area before he leaped up for the pass, but it was tough to tell how significant the contact was -- or what the standard is on such plays. Former NFL head of officials Mike Pereira, who now works as an analyst for Fox, tweeted that it was a "great" call.

Cox maintained he didn't dive.

"Man, look here, that wasn't a flop at all," Cox told Fox Sports by phone Sunday night. "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."

"I had no reason to flop," Cox continued. "I think it was two refs that saw it. They saw what they saw. If you look at the play, you can see I was just about to jump. Right when I came off the ground, he pushed me pretty hard."

Saints coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees were noncommittal when asked about the flag, agreeing that it's rare to see such a call but saying that they didn't get a close enough look at the replay.

"I guess I feel like I had a pretty good view of it," Brees said. "But it's a Hail Mary play, and there's tussling going on all the way down the field. I don't know how obvious it was or not or if it was just a flop. But it was called, and so it sent us into overtime. And we certainly had chances in overtime, so we can't really dwell on that."

The Saints (4-5) have now lost four games this year after leading in the final two minutes of regulation. This was the first time they lost one at home, snapping a string of 11 consecutive home victories.

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