Alberto Riveron’s first Sunday on the job has been largely without incident. But there was a fairly significant incident near the end of the Eagles-Washington game that helped sealed the win for the road team.
A hit on Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins resulted in the ball coming out, with a recovery by Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox leading to a touchdown. One replay angle seemed to suggest it was a forward pass, not a fumble. Another angle showed the hand coming forward empty, with the ball next to it.
Referee Brad Allen told pool reporter Master Tesfastion of the Washington Post after the game that replay review was inconclusive, resulting in the play being upheld (or, more accurately, not overturned). Allen, who made the real-time fumble ruling (Riveron made the decision to uphold it), said, “I just have to go with my gut. And my gut said fumble.”
The league has evolved away from the “indisputable visual evidence” phrase, replacing it with a requirement that the evidence be “clear and obvious.” Here, it was neither clear nor obvious that the ruling was erroneous.
Though social media erupted in response to the decision to let the call stand, there was little grumbling or rumbling from Washington coach Jay Gruden and other members of the team.