The Giants advanced to the divisional round after pulling off an upset road win over the Vikings on Sunday, but a questionable late-game defensive penalty nearly threatened to compromise New York’s eventual parade.
With the Giants up 31-24 and just under three minutes left in regulation, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings re-took the field on their own 12-yard line. On the second play of the drive, the veteran quarterback dropped back for another pass attempt and was almost immediately met by Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who made his way around rookie guard Ed Ingram.
Lawrence wrapped Cousins up, making contact with his helmet in the process, and held on to him as he threw the ball, resulting in a swift, swinging takedown of the QB just as the pass fell incomplete. Moments later, the officials threw a flag against Lawrence for roughing the passer to give Minnesota a huge 15-yard gain.
Giants coach Brian Daboll was visibly frustrated over the call and proceeded to give the officials an earful while the teams moved to the Minnesota 18-yard line. But while the penalty initially looked costly, the Giants managed to hang on with a big defensive stop to win the game.
Cousins completed three of five pass attempts in the drive but Minnesota was unable to score or, at least, get within field goal range. His last pass was caught by tight end T.J. Hockenson on fourth-and-eight for a gain of three yards as time expired.
As New York fans celebrated the franchise’s first playoff win since 2011, there were still plenty who felt the roughing the passer call was one of the worst of the game, and even the season itself. And, given the amount of debate surrounding roughing the passer calls this year, it’s pretty telling that the NFL world is up in arms again two days into the postseason.
We’ll see if all of the discourse possibly persuades the NFL to take a look at all of the officiating issues in the offseason.