Score or swindled — Saints fans will likely debate the ruling of Jimmy Graham’s almost-touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons for months.
With the 2014 NFC playoffs no longer an option, most Who Dats started immediately after Sunday afternoon’s 30-14 loss at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
From the lower levels to the loge, most fans thought Graham crossed the goal line before he was held up by Dezmen Southward then stripped by Kemal Ishmael on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We have satilitte that can find things, all over the place,” Saints fan John Hyers, 46, started a rant. He saw the play from section 641. “I can have a nickel in the ocean, with an electronic device on it, and they’ll find it.
“Now this (the NFL) is a business which makes trillions of dollars; what would it take to put an electronic device on a football so that when it breaks the plane, you don’t even have to have a replay — it’s a touchdown? Tell me? What would it take?”
Saints fan Sammy Perino, watching from section 543, also thought Graham scored.
“It looked like he caught it right at the goal line. It looked like a touchdown to me,” Perino said. “If anything, they should have blew it dead where forward progress was stopped. Instead they let the Falcons take the ball out.”
The play marked the second time in as many seasons that Graham, the Saints’ $40 million tight end, has faced criticism because of a lack of toughness. He heard from critics, both in the Seattle Seahawks defense and the media last season when he was roughed up in the NFC Divisional playoffs. And similar claims are sure to continue following his performance in recent weeks, highlighted by a one-catch outing with an NFC playoff spot at stake.
The video headline on Graham’s forgettable play on NFL.com: “Graham crumbles then fumbles.”
Graham, protected the football with two hands, appeared to move slightly across the white line, holding his spot on the field for officials to overrule their earlier call.
Then after several minutes: “After reviewing the play... the ruling on the field stands.”
Mike Pereira, rules analyst at FOX Sports, watching the game off-site, chimed in via Twitter.
“Again, I thought there was enough to overturn,” wrote Pereira, a former vice president of officiating for the NFL. “But if there’s any element of doubt, the stats show calls won’t be overturned.”
From the FOX Sports broadcast booth: “Incredible that they didn’t call forward progress, but that is not reviewable — forward progress.” — Color commentator John Lynch
Most fans in black and goal agreed.
Attendees in red with black trim? Not so much.
“That was the first time Jimmy Graham did anything all game,” said Ryan Lightsey, a Falcons fans visiting New Orleans this weekend. “Our secondary stepped up. We didn’t give away any big plays all game. That’s what saved us. All, year, we gave away big plays. We manned up on him, one-on-one, and shut him down.”
Same with Sheri Rupp, another Falcons fan in town.
“He did not score on that play,”Rupp. “He did not cross the line, did not not break the plane. No.”
Of course she’d say that.