The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Detroit Lions 19-17 on Sunday afternoon.
While the big moment that everyone found themselves talking about after the fact was kicker Justin Tucker’s 66-yard field goal to win the game – that wasn’t what ultimately determined the final result.
DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!?!
JUSTIN TUCKER 66-YARD FIELD GOAL FOR THE WIN! #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/LyHkSUiwk9
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
Rather, what actually changed the course of the game was a terrible call by the referees that essentially robbed Detroit of victory.
With seven seconds left in the game and Baltimore staring down a 2nd-and-10 at the Detroit 48, the offense found itself in disarray. Although quarterback Lamar Jackson eventually got the snap off, it clearly came after the play clock hit 0.
The Justin Tucker game-winning kick from 66 yards never should have happened. According to CBS broadcast graphic, this should have been a delay of game on Baltimore on the play before the field goal. #Lions #Ravens pic.twitter.com/YnVOuC3KXX
— Jonathan Deutsch (@JonathanD_TV) September 26, 2021
For whatever reason, despite clear evidence to the contrary, some argued that Jackson got the snap off before clock hit zero.
Well, on Wednesday, new video emerged that should kill that theory once and for all.
In that clip, there is no room for interpretation – the clock was at zero. A delay of game should’ve been called, and Tucker should’ve been forced to kick a 71-yarder. Detroit likely would’ve won the game in that scenario.
This obviously isn’t the first case of botched officiating in recent weeks. The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the LA Chargers on a very controversial sequence; the Dallas Cowboys were beneficiaries of some very friendly calls; and the Philadelphia Eagles were pretty blatantly screwed out of a win two weeks ago.
Cowboys fans always dress to impress. https://t.co/NHedqEFGfq
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 28, 2021
There’s a reason why there’s so little faith in the referees that some folks legitimately felt like they saw Sean Payton pay off a ref mid-game. That’s what happens when the integrity of a sport is suddenly thrown into question.
While everyone can now see Detroit was wronged, ultimately, it’ll have no impact on the final result. The Lions are still 0-3 on the year and now sit at the bottom of the NFC North.
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While I cannot verify the rule 100%, note on the full replay (which all replay videos conveniently cut off), at 18 seconds on the play clock you can see a ref holding up the Ravens huddle and saying something to Lamar. Since the Ravens ended up with about 15 seconds to huddle up, get the play, line up and snap the ball, I think the play clock was supposed to be reset and it’s possible the refs knew it. Possibly the refs personal clock (which they tend to use for delay of game calls) may not have matched the clock operator, similar to the previous Lions drive where they had to stop the play and add time back onto both the Game clock and Play clock due to an error the clock operator had. Similar to how Tom Brady consistently would get the play clock reset within the rules, I believe when a ref interferes in a team’s pre-play huddle/line-up under 20 seconds on the play clock, they are supposed to reset it to 25 when they are done. I know the rule applies when a ref is still standing over the ball with under 20 seconds, and since the team can still line up on the ball with that, I have to imagine preventing a huddle with less time than that must result in a reset clock. In either case they messed up as they either should have told the operator to reset it or call the delay of game, so no winning by the refs but that would be the most plausible reasoning to not call it.