Officials (and broadcasters) missed obvious intentional grounding call

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As explained in the opening segment of Friday’s PFT Live, plenty of things that happened during last night’s game made me #salty. This one made me the #saltiest.

Fourth quarter. 10:40 to play. Leading 16-7, the Patriots had just pinned the Buccaneers on their own three yard line with a punt.

Lined up under center, quarterback Jameis Winston took the snap and dropped back to throw from the end zone. On the left side of the formation, receiver Mike Evans streaked down the field. Tight end Cameron Brate, aligned a step back from the line of scrimmage and next to the left tackle, ran to the five and flared toward the sideline.

Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, on a slightly delayed blitz, popped through the line and closed in on Winston. Sensing a sack and a safety, Winston fired the ball to the left — at least 25 feet over the head of Brate, who was at the six when the ball soared by. It landed past the 20, so far out of bounds that a cheerleader had to duck and cover.

An official pointed to Brate, signifying the conclusion that Brate was in the area of the throw. (And if by “area” the official meant “area code,” I agree. Barely.)

The rule requires, specifically, that the pass must be “thrown in the direction of and lands in the vicinity of an originally eligible receiver.” While the ball was indeed thrown in Brate’s direction (if he were a giant), it definitely didn’t land in his vicinity.

It instantly reminded me of the first scoring play in Super Bowl XLVI, when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, operating from the end zone, threw the ball straight down the middle of the field. It was ruled grounding, and the Giants were awarded a safety. The same thing should have happened last night.

Making the play even more remarkable was that fact that the CBS broadcast never even mentioned the possibility of grounding. Tony Romo praised the blitz and remarked on the camera angle of the replay, but he never said a word about the obvious failure to drop the flag.

Should Romo have instantly recognized it? Well, a guy in the front row wearing a Chris Hogan T-shirt sure did, immediately throwing his hands in the air, communicating the “what the hell?” (or possibly some other four-letter word) message to anyone who may have been paying attention.

But no one was. If the folks charged with paying the closest attention had been, the Patriots would have been up by 11 with 10 minutes to go, and the Bucs would have been kicking (or punting) the ball to New England from the 20.

UPDATE 10:51 a.m. ET: OK, now read this. Thanks to a little-known exception to the grounding rule, it was the right call. This exception should be as widely known and recognized as the exception that allows a quarterback when outside the pocket to fire the ball anywhere he wants, as long as it passes the line of scrimmage.

59 responses to “Officials (and broadcasters) missed obvious intentional grounding call

  1. The officials were blatantly awful yesterday and Tony Romo should have been the one to say something. Of course, FOX has all of the ex-referees working for them and they would have nailed that one. For what it’s worth, Romo is still much better than Simms.

  2. I saw that too, obvious grounding, or at least close enough for the color guy to talk about it – Romo missed one two weeks ago also when the Bengals played the Packers. Rodgers had an obvious grounding and Romo (nor Nance) even mentioned it.

    Makes me wonder what he’s actually focusing on (or who’s feeding him information)

  3. I agree, but at the same time if missing a throw that badly is always cause for a flag then the Dolphins will lose 700 yards a game.

  4. I thought the same thing Florio. If I remember correctly that was a similar play to the SB were Brady received a grounding call. I thought that Sims was bad but Tony Romo is just awful.

  5. I said it last night… Pats have been jobbed by calls for years. Remember the Safety to start SB 46…

    At least that was in bounds!!

    My goodness..Goodell moves the goal posts to cheat the Pats, plain and simple!

  6. jmdanieli says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:21 am
    TB 12 was mugged all game, no calls, compare that to the 2 roughing the passer calls on the Pat’s. At least call the game fairly!

    1 0 Rate This

    ———————

    I honestly thought Goodell wouldn’t do it in back to back games with a nationally televised game like that, but he did.

    I guess we need to get used to it. This only becomes more glaring when the Pats aren’t blowing teams out. I’ve seen it for years, but no one cares because the Pats end up fighting through the cheating by Goodell.

    It’s just ridiculous.

  7. pastabelly says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:19 am
    The officials were blatantly awful yesterday and Tony Romo should have been the one to say something. Of course, FOX has all of the ex-referees working for them and they would have nailed that one. For what it’s worth, Romo is still much better than Simms.

    2 1 Rate This

    —————-

    Romo sucks so bad. He’s like that annoying frat dork no one can stand who is always hanging around at the cool parties.

  8. floriosnuts says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:12 am
    I found that a bit odd too. Especially considering that the refs threw a flag on almost every other play last night.

    2 1 Rate This

    —————-

    I am surprised he was willing to pull out another Goodell Special on national tv, a mere 4 days after the one on Sunday.

  9. tylawspick6 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:29 am
    I said it last night… Pats have been jobbed by calls for years. Remember the Safety to start SB 46…

    At least that was in bounds!!

    My goodness..Goodell moves the goal posts to cheat the Pats, plain and simple!
    _____________________

    You can’t be serious. No team gets more calls than the Patriots. This persecution complex that so many of you Patriots fans seem to have should really be considered a mental illness. Seek help.

  10. Well, the refs called one of the worst roughing the passer penalties ever on the Patriots, so it evened out.

  11. How can you guys not like Romo? He’s like a breath of fresh air. He’s even bringing the perpetual stick-in-the-mud Nance out of his shell.

  12. Romo is clearly still learning the ropes of the job. He makes some interesting observations but often he sounds more like a fan than an analyst.

    Also, is it just me or has Winston regressed? He doesn’t look good at all. For all we know he could have been actually trying to hit Brate on the numbers that play and just missed, his accuracy is so bad.

  13. mrphelps01 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:36 am
    Blatantly missed call. Period.

    1 0 Rate This

    ————

    Some might say what happened on Sunday and that, is more like cheating. And, that’s because it is.

  14. An official pointed to Brate, signifying the conclusion that Brate was in the area of the throw. (And if by “area” the official meant “area code,” I agree. Barely.)

    _______________________

    And I have seen plenty of pass interference calls made when their was no chance of the receiver catching the ball unless he were a giant, too. It happens. It is subjective. And we all know that holding calls could be called on both sides of the ball and often are not on half the plays in the game. Calling the game from the sideline with a camera focused on a play is not the same as calling a game real time with all that they have to look for. Sometimes they are watching for this or that and miss some of the other this’s.

  15. mmack66 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:37 am

    How can you guys not like Romo? He’s like a breath of fresh air. He’s even bringing the perpetual stick-in-the-mud Nance out of his shell.

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    I like Romo and he is a breath fresh air compared to the noxious gasses that were coming out of both ends of Simms…

    That said, Romo’s still got plenty of room for improvement.

  16. Sounds like a lot of you guys judge an announcer by whether they slobber all over your team or not. Romo does a far better job of explaining why plays worked or didn’t than any other announcer and verbalizes reads of plays before the snap. I’m so tired of hearing analysts do little more than hype the game.

  17. I couldn’t tell how far over the head the pass was from tv but throws get thrown out of the back of the end zone high on purpose and never get called as well so maybe having a receiver in the path of the throw is all you need…we need a refs explanation…

  18. Win or lose,one thing is constant on these boards: Patriot fans whining about getting “cheated” by someone, usually, the refs or the commissioner.

  19. As a Patriots fan, the worst call of the game IMO was when Amendola fell down and they called defensive holding. Even thought it helped my team, it’s calls like that that are ruining the sport.

  20. The worst thing about last night was watching ‘The Timeline’ and how the patsies were gifted a dynasty while simultaneously destroying the RAIDERS.

    It was a fumble, it was a fumble, it was a fumble.

    Carry on.

  21. They also missed a TD call. Hogan TD was NOT a TD.

    I was curious on the td also. When is possession established? The ball hit his hands in the endzone but he was in the air. When he landed and had both feet down he was no longer in the endzone.
    The extra point was kicked immediately so it didn’t seem to garner that pause we often see before the extra point.

  22. scooby7501 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:17 am
    They also missed a TD call. Hogan TD was NOT a TD.

    I was curious on the td also. When is possession established? The ball hit his hands in the endzone but he was in the air. When he landed and had both feet down he was no longer in the endzone.
    The extra point was kicked immediately so it didn’t seem to garner that pause we often see before the extra point.

    —————–

    It was clearly a TD. LOL

  23. @tylawspick: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!?

    The commish destroyed evidence for the patsies!

    The patsies were GIFTED the Tuck Rule.

    The patsies were given slaps on the wrist for constant transgressions.

    STOP CRYING ALREADY!

    I told you your boys would be done and it looks like they are starting to wind down that road.

    Enough already.

  24. The Patriots are an unprecedented Dynasty that is a thorn in the side of a league office obsessed with sacred parity and political manipulation. The disparity in rules enforcement both on and off the field is so obvious that it is comical, particularly because Belichick and Brady find a way to win and never whine about it.

  25. factschecker says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:14 am
    As a Patriots fan, the worst call of the game IMO was when Amendola fell down and they called defensive holding. Even thought it helped my team, it’s calls like that that are ruining the sport.

    2 0 Rate This

    ——-

    Gotta get those ratings up!

    I just wish Goodell will call LESS phantom calls against our team while having his cheating refs actually know basic rules like a Safety on intentional grounding, where we lost 2 points AND possession of the ball.

    The cheating has to stop.

  26. It was clearly a TD. LOL

    But was it? You didn’t answer the question. I am not saying it was or wasn’t a td, I am asking when is possession established? If it’s when the feet are down, he didn’t have it in the endzone.
    I thought this was the perfect time to bring in the hired official for a explanation.
    I suppose you could say the defense forces him out of the endzone and stopped his progress, but that doesn’t work with the sideline, possession is two feet and ball.

  27. mullman76 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:25 am
    @tylawspick: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!?

    The commish destroyed evidence for the patsies!

    The patsies were GIFTED the Tuck Rule.

    The patsies were given slaps on the wrist for constant transgressions.

    STOP CRYING ALREADY!

    I told you your boys would be done and it looks like they are starting to wind down that road.

    Enough already.

    0 0 Rate This

    —————

    No. He destroyed the “evidence” (if that is what you want to call it) to protect other teams from having a distraction and a draft pick stolen with a massive fine. If he punished all other 31 NFL teams, it wouldn’t be seen as a punishment just to try to weaken NE. Get it?

    Read it and weep, little guy:

    2010:
    Bill Cowher: “You know, let me just say this: To answer your question, no, I don’t think so (it’s not an advantage for one team over another).
    I just know as a head coach, you are always looking for a competitive edge. We had people out there trying to look at signals. We had guys go to games. They would tape the signal caller and also write it down. They would take it back and match up the signals with the game film and certain defenses with certain plays that were being called, particularly the defenses being called, to see if we could come up with some kind of an alert for a signal. So, what they did with videotaping the signal caller, people do it with the people in the stands!!
    These people sitting there in the stands, looking at the signal, writing it down and matching up the 1st and 10 signal. Ok? Then you go back again and the 2nd and 10 and here’s the signal. You do that for a whole game.
    You then go back and match up the defenses with the signal. And you can come up with what the signal was.
    So, you don;’t need a video tape with what they were talking about doing. And people were doing it. WE were doing that. Everybody does that. You’re TRYING to gain a competitive edge. There is nothing wrong with that.
    That’s why baseball players go through the mirage of signals. They’ve got all these different codes. That’s part of the competitive spirit of the game. I think it’s totally overblown. I think if you get caught (signals compromised), then do what we did and go to wristbands, you are worried about it. We started putting defenses on wristbands. Then you find a way to not get caught (signals compromised). When your good at something and people try steal from ya, I think it’s flattering.”

  28. ibillwt says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:26 am
    The Patriots are an unprecedented Dynasty that is a thorn in the side of a league office obsessed with sacred parity and political manipulation. The disparity in rules enforcement both on and off the field is so obvious that it is comical, particularly because Belichick and Brady find a way to win and never whine about it.

    0 0 Rate This

    ———————-

    Exactly. IN essence, this started in 2006 with Goodell in particular in the AFC title game with phantom calls against NE before halftime to try to get INdyu back into it.

    Remember the “faceguarding” call on Ellis Hobbs? There is no “faceguarding” in the NFL! It gave INdy a free TD on first and goal from the 1.

    LOL

    I mean, this stuff NEVER, EVER happened under Tagliabue or Rozelle. Ever!

  29. I’m sorry but you are wrong. If the pass goes out of bounds and is past the line of scrimmage it can be as overthrown as possible. Reciever “in the area”‘past the line of scrimmage and just an overthrow.

  30. Mr. Wright 212 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:10 am
    Wasn’t grounding.

    2 3 Rate This

    ———————

    Umm, yes it was.

    If that is not grounding and a Safety, then NE was factually cheated out of SB 46.

  31. bartpkelly says:

    October 6, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I couldn’t tell how far over the head the pass was from tv but throws get thrown out of the back of the end zone high on purpose and never get called as well so maybe having a receiver in the path of the throw is all you need…we need a refs explanation…
    ======================

    If you throw the ball out of the back of the end zone, its a safety, so who cares if it is also considering intentional grounding. The result is the same

  32. I Just Like To Type Comments That Wont Get Published says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:39 am
    I said the same thing when it happened. Brady did that on the first possession of the Super Bowl against the Giants, and it was ruled Intentional Grounding and a Safety for the Giants. How the Bucs got away with it was asinine

    2 0 Rate This

    ——————-

    When you come to the conclusion Goodell is ordering these ref crews to cheat the Pats whenever they feel it won’t be obvious in their minds, it’s not all that asinine.

    Like I’ve said, completely rule changes during the game or the bastardization of the rules to affect NE’s ability to score or be scored on, extending drives for the opponent, keeping it close, etc, only happens to the Pats on a regular basis.

    The only reason why this hasn’t been more obvious is because these games have been closer this year than in previous seasons.

    This stuff never happened in the Rozelle or Tagliabue Eras. The rules were known and enforced fairly.

  33. factschecker says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:14 am
    As a Patriots fan, the worst call of the game IMO was when Amendola fell down and they called defensive holding. Even thought it helped my team, it’s calls like that that are ruining the sport.

    ———————-
    They didn’t call holding they called illegal contact which it was because it more than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.

  34. FinFan68 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:56 am

    They also missed a TD call. Hogan TD was NOT a TD.
    ——————————————————————————————————
    It was an obvious TD and if you don’t understand this you really need to brush up on the rules and watch more games.

  35. The worst thing about last night was watching ‘The Timeline’ and how the patsies were gifted a dynasty while simultaneously destroying the RAIDERS.

    It was a fumble, it was a fumble, it was a fumble.
    =====

    I enjoyed the lead in, with the NFLs Head of Officials talking about how the rule was correctly applied, but made absolutely no sense.

    I enjoyed Mike Pereira admitting the NFL couldn’t get rid of the rule right away beacuse it would validate everyones opinion that the Raiders got hosed.

    I immensely enjoyed Bob Krafts smugness at the end. What an absolute sleezeball.

  36. FinFan68 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:56 am
    They also missed a TD call. Hogan TD was NOT a TD.

    scooby7501 says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:32 am
    I suppose you could say the defense forces him out of the endzone and stopped his progress, but that doesn’t work with the sideline, possession is two feet and ball.
    ____________________________________________________

    Two supposed football fans that do not understand something as basic as forward progress, smh. Possession inbounds is the question on a sideline play, that was not applicable in Hogan’s case.

  37. thereisalwaysnextyear says:
    October 6, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I’m sorry but you are wrong. If the pass goes out of bounds and is past the line of scrimmage it can be as overthrown as possible. Reciever “in the area”‘past the line of scrimmage and just an overthrow.

    ————————————————–

    I think that only pertains if the QB is outside the pocket, which if I remember correctly Winston was not.

  38. “No team gets more calls than the Patriots.”

    Total BS. The Pats get just as many bad calls as any other team. The difference is they don’t cry like a 3 year old that just dropped their ice cream cone in the sand when they get one. They just move on to the next opponent.

  39. I do love the irony of people bringing up the Tuck rule from 2002 and calling the Patriots Cheaters telling Patriot fans to “just get over” whatever we are supposed to get over.

  40. Are Raider fans arguing that the Patriots – who were losing at the time the Tuck rule was correctly called – were “gifted their next 2 scoring drives in that game to come back and win, then a win on the road the next week in Pittsburgh and 5 super bowls over the next 16 years?

    Why didn’t Oakland just stop the Patriots after that? It’s not like they had a high powered offense back then.

  41. carloswlassiter says:
    October 6, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Are Raider fans arguing that the Patriots – who were losing at the time the Tuck rule was correctly called – were “gifted their next 2 scoring drives in that game to come back and win, then a win on the road the next week in Pittsburgh and 5 super bowls over the next 16 years?

    Why didn’t Oakland just stop the Patriots after that? It’s not like they had a high powered offense back then.
    —————————————–
    Great post. It’s amazing the number of people I have met,sports news reporters on tv and radio,and those who comment on boards that think the “Tuck Rule” game was a Superbowl Game, or was the AFC Championship game.

    I get it with Raiders fans though.

  42. aarons444 says:

    October 6, 2017 at 11:10 am

    It could be alot worse;

    You weren’t the Raiders cheated out of a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
    ===================================================

    When was that? Tuck Rule was 100% the correct call. Bad rule, right call, end of story. Not disputable.

  43. There sure are a LOT of bandwagon Oakland Raider fans. I mean no genuine, long-time Raider fan would cry like a baby over the Tuck Rule because they would remember Sugar Bear Hamilton’s phantom Roughing the Passer call in the 1976 Division Championship and realize payback is a bit*h, wouldn’t they?

  44. The even more confusing part of this Raiders ‘mythology’ is that fans act like their destiny was stolen or something.

    I guess the fans missed the fact that the team actually did advance to the Super Bowl the following year where they proceeded to lay one of the biggest most embarrassing eggs in the history of the sport.

  45. Patriot fans, you need to face facts. Your team’s sweetheart relationship with the referees when the Patriots bashed and trashed them during Deflategate and for using them to beat the Ravens. It’s karma. The Patriots are beginning to pay for their total lack of respect for rules, for their professional colleagues and for refs. Your arrogance and disrespect has hastened your downfall.

  46. Well, you should know that they are trying to make Winston into a star. So any derogatory words toward his performance is a no-no. Although he is a good athlete, has no business playing QB but thats the “star” position. He throws at least a pick a game yet is NEVER considered to be replaced.Winston is one of those QB camp guys like Vince Young and will be given the opportunity to succeed well after he’s failed in this league

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