The Vikings are playing the Cowboys in the playoffs, which means you are probably going to hear quite a bit this week about the infamous 1975 playoff game. Dallas 17, Vikings 14, on a last-second TD pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson, who in Vikings lore pushed off to gain his advantage on the play.
In a bit of serendipity, Mr. Reusse was digging through his desk just last week and pulled out a DVD copy of the game that someone had sent him a while back. We immediately popped it on our computer, and we immediately had about three people standing around our desk. We sped to the final drive, and we learned some horrifying things.
*Pearson did not really push off, in our mind. Seriously. In today's game, if Sidney Rice was called for offensive pass interference for doing what Pearson did -- hand-fighting with a d-back and slipping back for an underthrown, back-shoulder catch -- Vikings fans would be very upset. We're not saying a push-off couldn't have been called. We're just saying that 35 years of hate might have been a little misplaced.
*A better place for your anger: a scheme that had Pearson essentially in single-coverage when Dallas was at its own 50 yard line with less than 30 seconds left. The safety help was way late. Staubach gets some of the credit for looking him off left; the Vikings get part of the blame for letting Pearson get in a position to make that play. Also, Pearson nearly dropped the ball. He basically trapped it against his leg. Neat.
*An even better place for your anger: On the same drive, two plays before the infamous grab (where the term Hail Mary apparently originated, by the way), Dallas faced a 4th-and-17 from its own 24 yard line with 44 seconds left on the clock. Yes, all Minnesota had to do was not allow a 17-yard play. Want to know what happened? Staubach threw a deep out to Pearson on the sideline. There is absolutely no way he was in bounds. Not a chance. He was given an incidental shove as he tried to bring the ball down. It was ruled a catch. First down.
This happened a year before we were born. And now we're upset about it.