It appears the NFL’s players might be just as fed up as its fans with the league’s inability — or refusal — to overturn its officials’ rulings on pass interference calls.
Quite possibly the most egregious error of the season, the first in which teams can challenge pass interference rulings, caused a massive swing in the first quarter of Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, arguably the biggest game of the week.
The Texans blasted the decision after the game.
Refs miss obvious pass interference in Texans-Ravens
With the Texans driving into Ravens territory on 4th-and-2 in a scoreless game, quarterback Deshaun Watson scrambled and threw a deep pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone. The pass was well-placed, but Hopkins was unable to come down with it for a touchdown.
The primary reason for Hopkins not catching the ball was the coverage of Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, which could be charitably described as a bear hug.
It was clearly defensive pass interference, but none of the officials on the field called it. Texans coach Bill O’Brien then challenged the ruling, only for NFL senior VP of officiating Al Riveron to decide his officials’ call would stand.
Instead of the Texans getting the ball at the 1-yard line, it was Ravens ball thanks to a turnover on downs.
As you can imagine, Hopkins wasn’t very happy about the situation after the game. He went so far as to call for Riveron to be replaced in deciding such calls, though he didn’t mention Riveron by name.
As a leader in the NFL, we need someone new in New York deciding calls. https://t.co/szdHjWhKbR
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) November 17, 2019
Through 11 weeks of the season, the biggest lesson NFL coaches have learned about the new pass interference challenges is to simply not use them. By ESPN’s count, coaches had lost 32 of 33 such challenges since the beginning of Week 4, a 3 percent rate. The New York Jets would later succeed with a challenge the same day, but the prospect is still clearly a losing battle.
Hopkins wasn’t the only member of the Texans incensed over the call, as O’Brien lamented that he no longer knows what pass interference is.
"I have no idea what pass interference is anymore. No idea." -Bill O'Brien on the failed PI challenge
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) November 17, 2019
Watson also criticized the decision, but seemed to simply want to move on.
Deshaun Watson: 'I mean, everyone saw it. The guy wrapped him around, but they didn't make that call. You got to live with it. You can't really dwell on it. It definitely could have been a changing point of the game, a momentum switch.'
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) November 17, 2019
The Texans’ failed challenge was followed by an absolute stomping from the Ravens, who eventually won by a score of 41-7. Clearly, the officials’ botching of the pass interference challenge didn’t create a point swing bigger than the winning margin, but you never know what would have happened had the Texans gotten that first score.
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