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Under preseason replay standard, Kyle Rudolph touchdown likely would have been wiped out

Wild Card Round - Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 05: Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings makes the game-winning touchdown reception against P.J. Williams #26 of the New Orleans Saints during overtime in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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The Vikings’ unlikely win over the Saints was delayed by a full-blown replay review of the game-winning touchdown catch by veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph. NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron upheld the ruling on the field of no offensive pass interference.

That’s consistent with the standard that Riveron has used for most of the season. Although, techically, the flag should be thrown if there’s clear and obvious evidence of Rudolph pushing the defender to gain separation, Riveron has been relying on something more egregious before dropping a flag when no flag was thrown.

Based on the manner in which Riveron was explaining the new procedure before the season began, Rudolph’s one-armed shove likely would have been enough to trigger a penalty via replay review. When meeting with employees of NFL Media in June regarding the new replay process, Riveron said that a Week 15 Chargers-Chiefs game that saw defensive pass interference called on what became the game winning touchdown drive for L.A. would have resulted in offsetting fouls, because replay showed receiver Mike Williams engaged in a one-armed push off.

Rudolph’s maneuver didn’t look much different than Williams’. Which makes the Saints’ decision not to gripe about the decision by Riveron a bit surprising.

Regardless, the apparent message for the balance of the playoffs is this: The ruling on the field won’t be overturned unless it’s more egregious than what Williams did in Week 15 of 2018, even though as of June 2019 that would have been enough to draw a flag.