The NFL has made a point of emphasis regarding some long-standing rules in the last few seasons. From rules designed to protect players and help their longevity, to rules simplifying what a catch is, the NFL has made some good rule changes to try to enhance the game recently.
Despite all the recent changes, there are still some recurring situations that have really hurt the game popping up too often.
From basically every Lions game since Matt Stafford was drafted to the 2018 Redskins, Giants, and Browns, officials have been causing far too many negative outcomes to games for too long.
(Most of the article is context. The end is the proposed rule in general)
The desire to write this article started when I finished watching the Texans @ Redskins game in Week 11. The game was a great one to watch from the start. Things went back and forth. The extremely banged up Redskins forced some mistakes and made some of their own to get the score to 17-7 at the half. Things looked 50/50 and then the freak injury bug struck the Redskins again and this time, it took QB1 out halfway into the 3rd.
A Redskins team that already lost CB1 and only had 5 week one offensive starters playing was now down to 4 after losing Alex Smith to the broken leg. Despite all the adversity they faced, the Redskins managed to claw their way back and the game found itself with a 23-21 score in favor of the Texans with 4:27 left to go. The Redskins ensuing offensive drive stalled and they opted to punt with just under 3:00 left on the game clock. This is when the whole point of this article comes in.
The Redskins defense did its job tremendously in crunch time and held the Texans from field goal range and forced the punt. Or at least that is what should have happened. On 3rd and 5, the Redskins held Deshaun Watson to a 2-yard run. Out of thin air, the referee tosses a flag and a holding that none one person will say existed was called on Josh Norman. This flag gave the Texans a first down and allowed them to take another minute off the clock and forced the Redskins to burn their final timeout. If one game-changingingly (that’s a word now) horrible call by the refs wasn’t enough, they followed it up with an even worse one.
The Redskins defense did their jobs again and gave their offense the ball back in good field position after the missed Texans field goal. The Redskins didn’t manage the clock or execute as well as they could’ve, but they should never have had to attempt a 63-yard field goal. On 3rd and 10 with 16 seconds left, Colt McCoy took a shot downfield to Josh Doctson that fell incomplete. By some bizarre turn of events, the ref standing right next to the play did not think to call a PI while Doctson was being tackled by two Texans defenders while the ball was still around 5-10 yards away. The PI that should be called 99.9% of the time wasn’t, and it stole the Redskins chance to end the game with a winning FG. There was no guarantee they would’ve been able to make the FG or even clock the ball, but any opportunity they should have had to actually win was stolen by referees that could not do their job when it counted most.
(This should be 101 for the refs to call that PI)
(The still image doesn’t show that much. Watch the play. Experts are saying it was a bad call)
I understand refs don’t like calling DPI’s in the final moments, but why call Norman on a play he didn’t hold and not call one of the two Texans players tackling the guy before the ball was even there? Watson never even looked at Hopkins and the only look of “holding” occurred while Watson was on the ground and it drew a flag. McCoy looked at and threw it on the money to Doctson and he was tackled before the ball arrived and there wasn’t a flag.
Look at a couple of Browns games this year, dozens of Lions games over the years, or the Panthers vs Giants game this year as well, and you’ll see blatantly horrible refereeing that practically stole a win from one team and handed it to the team that didn’t really earn it.
The Rule: Allow coaches, NY, and/or the booth to review a call by a referee in the final moments of a game (final moments being a term that would need to be defined. i.e. the final 5 minutes of a half or something similar). They would be allowed to challenge a call or a no call and should be granted one of such challenges per half.
Obviously, the specifics aren’t all there, but the need for a rule of this sort to be implemented is glaringly obvious and games like that Redskins one are great examples of that.