The Falcons nearly pulled off a major upset at Seattle, which would have been the final act of an impressive Panthers-Broncos-Seahawks triumph trifecta. Atlanta ultimately lost the game, and the most glaring play responsible for it involved an incident of pass interference that wasn’t called.
The replays make the infraction obvious. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman grabbed the right arm of Falcons receiver Julio Jones, keeping Jones from extending with both hands to make the catch on a deep ball thrown down the middle of the field with Atlanta facing fourth and 10. Although Jones nearly secured with ball with a left hand, his chances of catching it would have been much better if Sherman hadn’t impeded Jones.
It’s possible that Jones would have drawn the flag if he’d flopped to the ground (although it wouldn’t have been a flop, per se). It’s also possible that, if pass interference weren’t a spot foul, the flag would have been thrown. Regardless, the call was missed — and the Falcons are livid.
Yes, coach Dan Quinn said all the right things at his post-game press conference. The team is nevertheless privately furious, in part because the call was missed and in part because there was no way to fix it.
Pass interference currently isn’t subject to replay review in the NFL. The rule has been defended in the past by describing the existence of pass interference as a judgment call. But even “judgment” can be exercised so poorly that indisputable visual evidence of the error exists.
The fact that it’s a spot foul makes it even more important to correct obvious errors. And “obvious” should be the key word; if it’s clear that the officials made a mistake, the league should correct it with replay review.
Maybe the good news is that situations like this will prompt the NFL to include defensive pass interference within the scope of reviewable plays. Not that the change would help the Falcons, who are now 4-2 when they could have been 5-1.