Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack was robbed of what could have been a game-sealing touchdown when a quick whistle ended the play after he recovered a fumble on the ground, got up untouched, and raced toward the end zone. But is it fair to blame the official for keeping Jacksonville out of the Super Bowl?
Not according to former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira, who says a play like that shows just how hard it is to be an NFL official.
“That play was incredibly hard to officiate,” Pereira told Peter King of SI.com. “In a second, the ball is loose, maybe re-possessed, maybe recovered by the other team, and maybe the recovering player was touched as he fell. All in about a second. No one really questioned that in real time, only after watching it over and over again. That’s about the most difficult call an official would have to make. . . . Officiating anymore is not realistic. There is no consideration any longer of real-time officiating. You ask 130 officials, and they would tell you that is the most frustrating part of their job. You have to live with it. They make a call in real time, and they’re criticized after people watch replay after replay. The expectations are just amazing. The only level of acceptability is 100 percent. Replay and technology has put so much more emphasis on the really tight judgment plays that are so difficult to officiate.”
Pereira has a point: Everything happened very quickly on that play, and it’s not surprising that the official who blew his whistle thought Jack was down. Still, that’s a play on which you’d hope an official wouldn’t blow his whistle unless he’s absolutely certain the play is over. It was a very close call, one it’s understandable for the official to miss — even if it’s also understandable why Jaguars fans think a bad call cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.