The Vikings committed five turnovers and had two other fumbles against the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. This we know. However, if you take the word of the NFL's Vice President of officiating, at least one of those turnovers shouldn't have happened.
Per Pro Football Talk, during the "Official Review" segment of last night's airing of Total Access on the NFL Network, Mike Pereira told viewers that Brett Favre's first interception of the game should have been wiped out by a flag for a cheap shot courtesy of Saints' defensive end Bobby McCray. On the play, Saints' defensive tackle Remi Ayodele hit Favre high just after he released the pass that was intercepted by Jonathan Vilma, while McCray dove and hit Favre below the knee.
Granted, the officiating wasn't the reason the Vikings lost on Sunday. . .turning the ball over on
four five different occasions was. Still, it's always a bit frustrating to hear stuff like this three or four days after the fact, particularly knowing that despite those four five turnovers, the Vikings were still in a position to win the game late.
If the interview that Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams gave ESPN 104.5 in Nashville on Sunday is any indicator, the Saints have a definite strategy in mind when it comes to defending the league's elite quarterbacks.
Asked if after a game that included a couple of controversial hits on Brett Favre he would talk to his defense about the potential for calls protecting Manning, he said:
"Here’s the deal. When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out. If it happens, it happens. And the only thing you’d like for me to say is that if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again."
Translation: We're willing to risk a couple of 15 yard penalties if it means making the other team have to go to their backup quarterback.
Translation #2: Against the Vikings, our defensive strategy wasn't "hit Favre." Our defensive strategy was "hurt Favre."
Good luck trying to get away with that crap against Peyton Manning, Gregg, considering that a) the Saints' defense actually has to get to Manning first and b) call me crazy, but I'm guessing that so much as looking at #18 sideways in two weeks will be enough to draw a flag, never mind trying to go all Shawn Eckardt on his lower legs.
Oh, and the Saints and Vikings meet again next season, too. I'm guessing that Bobby McCray will have his head on a swivel from the second he jogs out of the tunnel in pre-game.
At least, he should.