Sean Payton after loss: 'Tip your hats to Minnesota'

Sean Payton didn't take the bait on the lack of replay of a potential offensive pass interference on the final play of the New Orleans Saints' 26-20 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round.

After the game, Payton dismissed a question about whether he thought OPI should have been called on Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph for pushing off on the game-winning score.

Rather than complain about the call, Payton noted his team was outplayed by the Vikings.

"Obviously a difficult loss. I felt, really, at the end of the day they made a few more plays, enough more plays than we did," Payton said. "Took us a while offensively to get going. I think they did a handful of things to kind of hinder us in the running game. We finally gained a little more momentum in the second half. I thought defensively we held up. Tip your hats to Minnesota. They deserve to win. It's always difficult when it happens in the playoffs. You know there's no follow-up game. You go from there."

Passing on criticizing the refs came a year after Payton and the Saints griped loudly over a badly missed defensive pass interference in the NFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams. The missed call last season led to a rule change in 2019, allowing pass interference to be reviewed.

NFL VP of officiating Al Riveron said in a post-game pool report that all angles on the final play were reviewed in New York before determining that no foul occurred.

"We looked at all of the angles that FOX aforded us, and FOX gave us some great views," Riveron said. "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."

Sunday's no-call wasn't nearly egregious as last season's miss, even if it appeared that Rudolph extended his arm on the play. Given the high standards the league office used this season on overturning calls, the play likely would have stood if reviewed.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he celebrated the win as soon as the refs left the field following the win.

"I looked up there and saw both feet in with a third foot in and the ball in his hands," he said. "So, I was gone. When I saw the referees leaving, I was leaving."

While some might focus on the non-call, Payton noted correctly that the Vikings outplayed his team for most of the contest.

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