An NFL spokesman conceded Thursday the New Orleans Saints were incorrect in tagging Mayo as a receiver as he sprinted through the back-pedaling secondary.
“The NFL acknowledges the Saints original Tag Call was incorrect. Having reviewed the sequence of events leading up to the call, it is clearly erroneous,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Mayo was matched up with Cowboys cornerback Kavon Frazier, who was locked on Brees, as the Saints quarterback threw a crossing route. Saints coach Sean Payton sent Mayo to run the route after Brees zipped a pass from his own end zone. Mayo did get tangled up with Frazier as he ran by, but the safety bit the pass in the process of blowing his head off, stopping one step short of the goal line.
After the play, officials ruled Mayo made a catch because of the way he advanced the ball to the 1-yard line with all the Saints’ offensive players except Deuce McAllister getting stuffed.
The Saints attempted to get the clock stopped with a challenge on the play. Replay officials ruled the receiver made the catch, and the play was reviewed on the field by referee Carl Cheffers.
When Mayo raised his left hand in celebration, Cheffers incorrectly signaled touchdown. Payton motioned for a challenge, which Cheffers executed. The touchdown never happened because the video replay review overturned Cheffers’ call.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.