NFL Wild Card Weekend Was Epic

Except for Who Dat Nation.

Jim Rome
January 06, 2020 - 9:41 am
Kyle Rudolph

USA Today

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Hell of a weekend, wasn’t it?! All four playoff games decided by 8 points or less. Two of them going to overtime. Don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying those were the best played football games ever… Nor were they four of the highest scoring games ever, but there were some damn strong moments. 

Houston coming back from down double digits to win in overtime. Tennessee out-Patrioting the Patriots. The Eagles being banged up to hell and still battling their asses off. And then Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings.

Before I get into this, let me say two things: first, Saints fans, I feel for you. For the last three years, you’ve either been jammed by the refs or had your heart ripped out by an opponent. Or in the case of yesterday, both. Kyle Rudolph DID get away with a push on the game-winning t.d. While it obviously wasn’t a blatant as the non-call in the conference title game last year against the Rams, that was offensive pass interference: Rudolph extended his arm, and was able to get separation by doing so: that is the very definition of pass interference. And it should have been called. That’s why they put in the new rule this year; to prevent the very thing from happening, on that very stage. And it happened again.  To the Saints again. That’s not the reason you lost, Saints fan, but after what you’ve endured the last three years, I could see how you’d feel that way. 

But I’m way more focused on what the Vikings did to you than what the refs did. And here is the other thing. If you want to come in here and reset some tired old drop that Kirk Cousins said years ago when he was playing for another team, don’t bother. It’s been beaten into the ground. 

“You like that” resets are about as fresh as “Are you not entertained!” Resets. And that’s from a movie that came out nearly 20 years ago. We’ve had nearly two decades of that reset. It’s uninspired and unoriginal. It’s tired. It’s played. It’s lazy. And I’m not having it. 

But……but…. I will lift my ban on “you like that” resets for one man and one man only. Kirk Cousins. In the locker room after the game yesterday.

He can reset that. You can’t.

Because you didn’t do this. He did.

And before that, he did this.

That pass to Adam Thielen was absolutely perfect. I’m not sure what was better: the pass or the catch. And to do it on the road, in overtime, was absolutely insane. The definition of clutch.

And it was a bit of redemption, not just for Cousins, but for Thielen who spotted the Saints three points with his fumble on the opening possession. But he bounced back, thanks to a technique from college.

"Just flush that play away. It's actually something from college, our coaches used to make us do -- flush the bad play. We actually had a little mini toilet on the sideline and we'd have to go over and flush it. So that's where that came from."

Miami had the turnover chain and Minnesota State-Mankato had the mini-toilet. And that fumble wasn’t the only thing that went down the drain yesterday. 

Because not that Cousins would be looking to do it, but he could be serving a lot of people a crow sando right now after that performance.  Instead, of YOU LIKE THAT?  He could be screaming from the rooftops, HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW!  Or better yet, TELL ME HOW MY ASS TASTES. But he’s not. Because that’s not how he rolls. It’s never been how he’s rolled. He’s taken heat for years, and even earlier this year, and just kept on rolling. 

Hell, it was September of this year that he was getting absolutely killed for how he was playing and then he completely turned it around, both his season and Minnesota’s. 

For everyone who ever took a run at him for not winning on the road against good teams in pressure situations, and even the comment from Thielen himself earlier in the year that "You have to be able to hit the deep balls, Cousins took all of that on in that one play. 

He saw Patrick Robinson on Thielen in man coverage and he hit that deep ball. He might never have thrown a better ball in his life. And he did it at the best time possible.

And then he did it again. Because after Dalvin Cook was stopped on two straight runs, the ball was in Cousins hands on third down from the four yard line facing a zero blitz. Roll it. 

And yes, Saints fans, on that touchdown pass, it sure looked like there was offensive pass interference. I’m not sure how many times you’d actually see a flag thrown in that situation in overtime, but I completely get why Saints fans were pissed that it wasn’t called. Not only was there no flag on the play, but it was reviewed so quickly, many of the Saints were sure officials hadn’t even bothered to review it.  But it was. And, league senior VP of officiating Al Riveron is here with an explanation: "There is contact by both players, but none of that contact rises to the level of a foul. This is consistent with what we've done all year long -- we left the ruling on the field. We let it stand."

So…yes, the Saints are getting jammed again. I would say that the breaks even out, but they sure don’t seem to be for the Saints. Last year against the Rams. This year with Rudolph. And there was the blatant hold in overtime. And the fumble return that was taken off the board, even though that should’ve been taken off the board, it still hurts. 

All of it does, because this Saints team had everything you need to make a Super Bowl run. And they didn’t even get out of the first weekend. That hurts like hell. 

And the Saints know it. Because hearing the players after the game, it seems like the thing that pissed them off the most wasn’t the lack of pass interference or the wacky overtime rules that means if you give up a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime the game is over without both teams getting a chance to possess the ball.

Nope, the Saints were pissed that they didn’t play their best game when it was needed.  That the Vikings DIDN’T get their best shot. They didn’t play their best when they had to.  And the Vikings DID.

That was a Vikings team that nobody was giving a chance to. An 8-point underdog who fumbled away the first possession of the game and was down 10-3 in the second quarter…most thought they were done and the narrative had been etched in stone: that Kirk Cousins just can’t get it done on the big stage. And Mike Zimmer, with a one and done might be on the way out. Turns out they didn’t get that memo….because they turned it on, scoring 17 unanswered points.

Dalvin Cook looked sharp and fresh, especially in the first half. The Vikings defensive line was causing Drew Brees serious problems. And then when it mattered most, the quarterback stepped up with a bomb and then a walk off touchdown.  

And yes, everyone in purple likes that. And while it seems like its best suited for some morning show debate, but in terms of the question, who needed that more, Drew Brees or Kirk Cousins; the answer is…YES. Cousins had to have it. He got it, and it was a huge statement win for both him and the organization. And this one is going to stick to the Saints for a long time, because all the pieces were in place for a Super Bowl run, and now it’s over before it even started. And they can kill the officials all the want, but when they look in the mirror this morning, and they own it, they’ll know the Vikings didn’t get their best shot: and that more than anything else is the reason they lost. Not the refs.