Duke Johnson, Joe Thomas insist Washington never had possession of fumble

AP

The NFL’s official explanation for Sunday’s there-must-have-been-two-footballs play involving Cleveland and Washington is that cornerback Josh Norman somehow secured sufficient possession of a fumble before Browns running back Duke Johnson snatched it back and displayed it to the world. Johnson and his teammates don’t buy it.

Receiver Terrelle Pryor made his case during Wednesday’s PFT Live. Johnson and left tackle Joe Thomas provided their own perspective on Wednesday.

[N]obody ever touched the ball but me,” Johnson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m mad that I got it and still didn’t get it.”

Thomas believes that Washington players successfully duped official Sarah Thomas.

“Will Compton was acting like he had the ball,” Thomas said. “And then Josh Norman jumps on top of him to like cradle him so like nobody else could get on top of him. I never saw the football. I just saw a guy that was acting like he had the football, which is exactly what the official saw — somebody acting like they had the football, so she gave the ball to the person that was acting like they had the football.”

That’s the only way to reasonably explain her demeanor. Thomas didn’t indicate Washington possession and then begin to unpile the players for safety reasons. She behaved in the same way we’ve seen so many officials behave over the years, sorting through the pile, determining who had the ball, and then indicating that one team had secured it.

“Basically the ball hit the ground and bounced right back to Duke, and when the Washington player tried to scoop it, he got air, but then he just — I don’t know if because I was on top of him he was laying there acting like he had the football, or because he was laying there acting like he had the football Josh Norman jumped on him and the ref saw the posture of two Redskins cradling nothing on the ground and me trying to go after that nothing that she just assumed that the Redskins must have the ball –€” even though Duke had the ball in his hands,” Thomas said.

“I think if she would’ve just looked over and saw Duke with the ball, it would’ve been a different story, but at that point, when you’re an official, you’ve just got to go with whatever you’re going with and just lie ’til you die at that point.”

The league has admitted that the image of Johnson holding the ball in the air while Thomas indicates that Washington recovered the fumble is a “bad visual.” It’s more than a “bad visual”; it’s a serious blunder that is being handled with an explanation no one in Cleveland, or anywhere else, is buying.

87 responses to “Duke Johnson, Joe Thomas insist Washington never had possession of fumble

  1. She’s not the first official to make a bad call. Nor the last. What about the obvious INT that the Redskins had against the Giants? That cost the Skins 3 points. This fumble did not cost Cleveland points but just time wasted. It did not decide the game.

  2. You don’t want to believe that officials are being paid to influence the game in one direction or another, but why not as that decision was indefensible and similar scandals have been exposed in every other sport.

    At a minimum, officials should be fired and investigated.

  3. Is there usually this much focus on the particular official (other than a referee) who makes a mistake, or is there more attention being paid here because she’s a woman? Worse yet, is the league trying to cover for her more than they would a male official? I hope not. She made a mistake. She’ll be coached/disciplined or whatever like any other official would be and move on. There have been a whole lot of other officiating mistakes this year, some a lot worse than this one.

  4. If Cleveland thinks it’s horrible that they cannot get a call while playing the Redskins….

    Wait until they walk into Gillette to play the Patriots upon Brady’s return….

  5. Fact checking is not Ma Lady’s strong suit. What is the discipline for something like this? I believe the last guy to make a major prime time gaff was removed from prime time broadcasts, after a suspension. Can you do that to a female ref and survive in this political climate? Or do you just pretend it didn’t happen? Serious questions….

  6. I would give her a pass on this. She has seemed to be a good official so far. She made a mistake; got duped by Josh Norman of all people. But it seems like it was correctable. NFL should just admit they were wrong.

  7. raiderinva says:
    Oct 5, 2016 5:06 PM
    If Cleveland thinks it’s horrible that they cannot get a call while playing the Redskins….

    Wait until they walk into Gillette to play the Patriots upon Brady’s return….

    ****************************************************

    They won’t be recovering any fumbles there either. Hopefully they figure that out ASAP and get back to Cleveland in time for the kickoff.

  8. This has nothing to do with the gender of the ref, or even her competance. It has every thing to do with the league pretending that they go to every length to insure that the right call is ultimately made, but in reality they too often refuse to accept that they made a mistake.
    She blew it. Fine. But then the refs should have huddled and cleared things up. Cleveland ball, end of story.

  9. Bad calls have always happened, happen now, and will always happen.

    They’ll likely happen more often to Cleveland, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

  10. Female NFL ref sucks as much as the Male NFL Refs suck, shocker. I watched the replay, all I saw was Thomas smacking all the players on the head, I hope she knows thats a personal foul on a defenseless male. I dont see how they ruled the skins recovered it.

  11. It certainly is a bad visual. Like a guy standing next to a headless body with the head in his hands. Yup. Bad visual.

    But remember. The head of nfl officiating who was never ever an official is calling the shots. It’s like making me chief justice of the Supreme Court even though I’m not even a lawyer.

  12. raiderinva says:
    Oct 5, 2016 5:06 PM
    If Cleveland thinks it’s horrible that they cannot get a call while playing the Redskins….
    Wait until they walk into Gillette to play the Patriots upon Brady’s return….
    ++++++++++++=

    If they walk into Gillette for Brady’s return then they will join you as the only people on the planet that think the game is there.

    Raiders fans…can’t even troll properly.

  13. That video is absolutely hilarious. Two redskins wrestling for a ball that another player is holding over his head 5 feet away. And a ref looking at the two redskins and signaling as if one of them had possession of the ball while another guy on another team is holding it over his head.

  14. I’ll say it… Female Ref.

    ——————————

    You are right. Women can be just a terrible at any job a man can.

    Are you really going to defend all the calls that were made by men this week?

    Actually by that logic it is clear that men are incapable of refereeing this league.

  15. The problem isn’t so much the ref blew the call. Blown calls happen all the time. Heck, in the same game this same ref manufactured a phantom holding call that negated a Skins Long gain and first down. (On the replay, the announcers were a little mystified) It happens. They’re human, they will make mistakes and we should move on.

    The problem is the lack of any acknowledgment that this was a blown call, which translates to the fans thinking that this kind of VERY fixable BS will never get fixed.

    The problem is an explanation that has the fans going “Are you kidding me???”

    A quick “Yeah, on review it sure looks like the call was blown… sorry” would go a long way.

    Not a good look, NFL.

  16. Weird. You usually don’t see Redskins players cradling nothing until it’s time to hand out the Lombardi.

  17. lanman11 says:
    Oct 5, 2016 5:08 PM

    Fact checking is not Ma Lady’s strong suit. What is the discipline for something like this?
    —————————–

    Like what? Blandino already came out and said they got it right.

  18. If the NFL had simply admitted it the mistake Sunday night, this story would have been over with three days ago. The call was incompetent, clearly, but the lies are what is making league look pathetic…Change the channel like everyone else, I guess…

  19. Refs miss calls

    If there are two guys at the bottom of the pile….and they are both Redskins…. one of them must have the ball. So Redskins ball…. amirite?

    Oh there is a guy from the Cleveland team with the ball standing next to the Ref? Well that’s what the Automatic review is for.

  20. The Ref was calling the new call to he NFL has not announced publicaly It’s the ” Because ” call. New this year.

    Because calls are used because they are not reviewable and nobody can challenge the. Why? Because.

  21. More bad visuals coming tomorrow night during the National Anthem….the only thing that matters to the NFL more than money is being PC.

  22. The redskins recovered the ball and was down by contact, when Johnson ripped the ball away from him and held it up like he had it the whole time. First down Redskins!!!

  23. How do they explain never recovering a ball from a Washington player? First it was Compton who recovered, now it’s Josh Norman.

    Browns fans realize they can’t change anything, but how about a public apology for the mistake. An admittance from the official and the league they were wrong and in doing so, affected the outcome of a game? How about putting some reasonable means in place to prevent this….finally. Let’s start by having a full time staff of officials instead of being greedy. Let’s continue with an NHL like central office to overturn obvious mistakes. Stop making officials key members of wins and losses for gosh sakes!

  24. First, the call was wrong on the field.

    Second, the call was STILL wrong even after review …

    “They had already looked upstairs and confirmed it was a fumble and their ball.”

    Third, the call was even worse with Bandaidolt suggesting there was nothing definitive in the replay despite Johnson walking away with ball 2 yards removed from the scrum pile.

    For crying out loud. You got the call wrong.

  25. A. If you aren’t sure about possession then it stays with the team that had it last
    B. If you don’t see the ball you can’t call possession
    C. If the other team has the ball they recovered
    D. In the replay you see Johnson has the ball and none of the redskins.
    E. Why insist you got it right when you got it wrong?

  26. demskinsbaby says:
    Oct 5, 2016 5:58 PM
    The redskins recovered the ball and was down by contact, when Johnson ripped the ball away from him and held it up like he had it the whole time. First down Redskins!!!
    ================
    Long arm Johnson. As in 2 yards long. Which is what would have been needed to do what you suggest.

  27. What exactly is Blandino’s function? It seems like all he does is agree with their call, no matter how bad.

    Does he ever do anything to try to make the officiating better?

  28. They review every turnover. If that review couldn’t determine who recovered the ball, it obviously wasn’t as obvious as many of you would like to believe.

  29. Not that the facts matter to a Raider fan but the Patriots are in Cleveland this weekend.

  30. This wasn’t merely a bad call, it was an incompetent call with an official who seemingly had absolutely no idea what was actually happening.

    And then Blandino, per his job description, tried to defend it.

  31. voiceofrealism says:
    Oct 5, 2016 6:15 PM

    They review every turnover. If that review couldn’t determine who recovered the ball, it obviously wasn’t as obvious as many of you would like to believe.
    —————————

    It’s completely obvious that Johnson was standing there with the ball before that bird somehow determined that the Redskins recovered the football that Johnson was holding.

  32. voiceofrealism says:
    Oct 5, 2016 6:15 PM
    They review every turnover. If that review couldn’t determine who recovered the ball, it obviously wasn’t as obvious as many of you would like to believe.
    ========================

    What is obvious enough is that you have not watched the play

  33. voiceofrealism says:
    Oct 5, 2016 6:15 PM
    They review every turnover. If that review couldn’t determine who recovered the ball, it obviously wasn’t as obvious as many of you would like to believe.
    =================================
    Seriously? Johnson had the ball 2 yards away from the scrum pile. He held it up while the refs were pulling apart the pile to see where the ball was. Sorry but it was pretty obvious.

  34. And they wonder why ratings are down. We have all seen this league office lie more outrageously than any politician and perpetrate more scams than a mob boss. Then when a play as obvious as this one gets called wrong not only do they ‘botch’ the replay Baghdad Blindino comes out and lies about it. “Pay no attention to the evidence of your eyes or that man behind the curtain, this is all legit”

  35. They did Cleveland a favor by bringing them closer to another first overall pick. Where you going this season in that division. I would fire the coach for pulling Crowell at anytime during that game and invest in heavy scouting. The coach lost the game plain and simple.

  36. It was a bad call. Nothing can be done about it now. I hope the officials learned something from it. A call this bad should have been overturned. It’s ridiculous. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

  37. It sucks to watch your already limited and inexperienced and bad team scrap every game, then have a few terrible calls crush them even more. Moral victories stink, but this will be something the young players will remember and build on.

  38. dlr4skins says:
    Oct 5, 2016 7:10 PM
    They did Cleveland a favor by bringing them closer to another first overall pick. Where you going this season in that division. I would fire the coach for pulling Crowell at anytime during that game and invest in heavy scouting. The coach lost the game plain and simple.
    ========================
    Any yet it was still a miserable missed call. As sure as, well the coach losing the game.

  39. Officiating football is difficult, we get that.
    Mistakes will happen. We see it often, but we as fans accept it
    as being part of this fast paced and inherently chaotic game.

    I’m confident that Sarah Thomas is a competent official, and
    has been thoroughly screened, probably even more than
    her male cohorts. But given a chance, I bet even she would agree
    she botched that call. The evidence is clear.

    What really peeves me off is ‘Bagdad Bob’ Blandino
    coming on each week and trying to put lipstick on a pig
    and explain away why it was the right call. It’s laughable and
    can’t be taken seriously any more.

    Just accept a mistake was made. Work to minimize them
    in the future. Do better.

  40. “I’ll say it…Female ref”

    Lol, it was a bad call. But 99% of the terrible calls in the league are made by male referees. What’s the rationale for all those bad call? It was a referee – male or female – who got it dead wrong. Nothing more.

  41. Another call “fixed” by instant replay, and by “fixed” I mean wrong like the 2 calls against Dallas in the playoff game against the fudgepackers.

  42. stylzinc says:
    Oct 5, 2016 6:11 PM

    It’s also bad PR to make a female ref look bad with everything else that’s going on with the NFL
    ————————-

    Not overturning an obvious mistake, and then having Blandino stand up there and claim they made the right call, is far worse PR than hurting the feelings of a referee, regardless of the gender.

  43. As a Skins fan, it was a bad call. It was somewhat obvious that the Browns had the ball (when the RB had it in his hands while the ref was coming in and looking at the pile). Did it influence the game? Hard to say it did or didn’t definitively. It may or may not have made a difference.

    I think the problem here is that the NFL didn’t come out and just admit it was a blown call. They have their reasons, some suspect it was because the call was made by a female ref and that is why the NFL is providing cover. If that is the case, then the NFL should be getting hammered for their cover on this because they are not doing this person any favors by shielding her from criticism of her error.

    This might be a case where the NFL admits she made a bad call. She feels the heat a bit for the bad call and everyone moves on and everyone is better for it. Covering for her error in the way they have done isn’t helping the situation, not helping her get better at her craft and it reeks of a level of favoritism that is not offered to every ref out there who makes a mistake. It also assumes that your fan base are just idiots who won’t question the stupidest of explanations.

  44. connfyoozed says:
    Oct 5, 2016 5:05 PM
    Is there usually this much focus on the particular official (other than a referee) who makes a mistake, or is there more attention being paid here because she’s a woman? Worse yet, is the league trying to cover for her more than they would a male official? I hope not. She made a mistake. She’ll be coached/disciplined or whatever like any other official would be and move on. There have been a whole lot of other officiating mistakes this year, some a lot worse than this one.

    ____________

    Ehhhhh….worse than this one? I’ve seen some bad calls, a lot of bad calls, but worse than this? Did someone go on a rampage “the last boyscout” style, and the counted the touchdown and I missed it?

    If so, can I get a link? that’s gotta be funny. If not, I don’t think it was worse than this one

    Anyone else remember the 15 stories a day about how bad “replacement” refs were for missing PI calls and such?

  45. I’m a skins fan and I can say with 100% certainty that I have witnessed numerous blown calls including turnovers like this, happen, against the skins.

    This isn’t some NFL karma that shows up and gifts a win to team A or team B. This is incompetence and lack of technology. It’s the inability to challenge a PI call, like the CFL coaches can do. You can’t put an x-ray machine below the field to identify the ball’S position in relation to players in a scrum. This is just how life in the NFL IS.

  46. This bad call is getting a lot more attention than the Ravens/49ers Super Bowl where Ed Reed was a few yards offside in the final seconds of the game and it wasn’t called.

    I’m not saying it’s because a woman made this call.I’m just saying I hardly heard a peep about the Super Bowl being blown.

    I wonder if she’ll be on the Super Bowl crew this year? May as well.

  47. The girl ref blew this call epically. That’s why the NFL is in full Hillary cover-up mode.

  48. Moudabo says:

    Officiating football is difficult
    ———————————————————————
    It’s more difficult when you suck at it, like Sarah Thomas.

  49. Yes, it is completely appropriate that the Browns keep harping on this forever- it’s the only reason they are 0-4. If this play had been called correctly, they would be 4-0 and well on their way to home field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

  50. Here’s an idea….don’t fumble and leave your fate to a referee to determine possession eh?…am i right?…

  51. Welcome to sports….refs miss calls, get over it (see the Fail Mary, the Dez Bryant drop or the way Dallas beat Detroit the week before the Dez drop). Look at the bright side of this Browns, it didn’t cost them. All they had to do is score on a bad defense (after the Redskins failed to take advantage of the bad call) and the didn’t. So let’s move on

  52. Not buying the NFL’s explanation.
    Here’s why… It doesn’t pass the eye test.

    All the official progressive logic and reasoning are just cover for a bad call.

  53. Let the Soviets inbound the ball one more time…

    Oh just give the ball to washington for pete’s sake, ya know, because I saw the ball come out of the guy’s hands. That automatically means it goes to the other team, right?

  54. The real problem in this game was bias on the part of the entire officiating crew, vis the two earlier pass interference calls against the Browns that were blatantly bad. The idiotic phantom fumble call reminded me of an umpiring blunder in a game in NY a few years ago, in which a Cleveland batter hit a pop foul down the third base line with two out and the bases loaded. Yankee left fielder dove into the stands and then jumped to his feet holding his closed glove up as if to signal his catch. Ump Mike DiMuro immediately and emphatically threw up his thumb for the out, while a goofy looking kid next to the play studied the ball in his hand that had never been in the glove. Yankees and DiMuro ran off the field triumphantly. When the Indians took the field, the batter, Jack Hanahan, approached DiMuro to speak with him and was tossed out of the game before opening his mouth. The disgusting fact is that there is too much open bias against Cleveland sports teams in all professional sports.

  55. Let’s get a couple things straightened out.

    Browns players are talking about the call because THEY ARE ASKED ABOUT IT by reporters. Ya dig?

    Crowell was off the field because it was being checked for a concussion (yes, talking to you, dlr4skin). If you were watching the game, you would have known that.

  56. Credit to her, only four games in, for coming up with a type of bad call previously unseen in NFL history. Perhaps there’s a reason the rest of the crew made no attempt to correct it, and I’m not suggesting a desire not to hurt her feelings.

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