Blown call in Washington-Dallas game takes on greater significance in age of legal wagering

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Questionable officiating decisions have from time to time impacted the outcomes of games. Questionable officiating decisions also has impacted the outcomes of the legal betting line. With legalized sports wagering now spreading throughout the country, it’s more important than ever that the latter outcome be avoided.

It happened on Thursday, with Washington — an underdog in the range of seven to 7.5 points — trailing Dallas by 11 and driving for a score. Facing third and three from the Cowboys’ 13, quarterback Colt McCoy threw a pass to tight end Jordan Reed. He absorbed a vicious blow to the head from Cowboys safety Xavier Woods. It’s the kind of hit that has been flagged many times before, a byproduct of a sensitivity to head injuries that emerged in 2010.

Often, officials have penalized players for far less egregious hits, erring on the side of protecting players. The league has evolved away from using the term “erring,” since it implies a mistake. Regardless, the officials are supposed to be looking closely for these kinds of hits.

In this case, the officials flat-out missed it.

Washington settled for a field goal, an eight-point deficit, and an onside kick that failed. A foul would have given Washington a first and goal from the 6, and a fresh set of chances to score a touchdown that, in turn, would have allowed the road team to cover. The fact that the foul wasn’t called surely rankled those who risked their money on Washington plus the points.

It’s a tangible example of the challenge the NFL faces when it comes to legalized sports betting. Balanced against all the money the league and its owners will make in the coming years is the risk of tough questions being asked when blown calls result in millions of dollars changing hands. If enough tough questions are asked, changes will be imposed on the league by outside forces. Which means that the best play for the league will be to make the changes necessary to avoid situations like this.

When it comes to the rule regarding hits on defenseless receivers, the simplest solution becomes making the play subject to automatic replay review. Alternatively, the league office could assume the authority to mandate that the flag being thrown via the pipeline to the referee. Ideally, the league would embrace the concept of adding to the crew a video official, who would be responsible for giving the on-field officials real-time assistance in all aspects of calling a game, in the hopes of always getting it right.

Especially when the outcome of the game and/or the outcome of the bet is hinging on the decision. And especially when the tin-foil hat crowd will be looking for any and every reason to suggest that the fix is in, even though it never, ever is.

39 responses to “Blown call in Washington-Dallas game takes on greater significance in age of legal wagering

  1. A lot of mysteries in how these games are officiated. How does the Bears defender who makes the last interception NOT get called for PI? He CLEARLY hit the receiver while the ball was in the air. It looks to me like they are aiding the teams the league wants to see in the playoffs.

  2. “It’s a tangible example of the challenge the NFL faces when it comes to legalized sports betting.”

    Why would this be a challenge the NFL faces? It’s a challenge the bettor faces. Don’t gamble what you don’t have to spare, and don’t expect the NFL to cover your bet if they make a mistake.

  3. Balanced against all the money the league and its owners will make.. he makes it sound like the NFL was the ones that pushed for betting when they in fact pushed against it. Not their problem

  4. It’s not surprising they missed that call…the public and the money were on the Redskins…so if they had covered the spread…Vegas loses…

    Vegas wanted the Cowboys to cover the spread…they needed the Cowboys to cover the spread…Vegas won that one…thanks ref!!!

  5. “Blown call in Washington-Dallas game takes on greater significance in age of legal wagering”

    No, it really doesn’t. Human error has always been and will always be part of the game. Players play and officials officiate. Legal wagering should have no affect on how the game is played or officiated. That’s the risk that bettors and the house take when they put up their money, knowing that the human element can change the outcome of the game.

    If they don’t like it, they should bet on Madden video game competitions instead of the real deal.

  6. Officials are always involved with fixing the outcome of games. It explains why they thrown flags on one team and not the other for the same infraction. They just choose to look the other way. Either that or they are completely incompetent. It’s one or the other.

  7. Officials are always involved with fixing the outcome of games. It explains why they throw flags on one team and not the other for the same infraction. They just choose to look the other way. Either that or they are completely incompetent. It’s one or the other.

  8. Don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose. Typical of those looking for a quick buck to look for quick answers when they inevitably get burned. A little tip, the house always wins in the end, don’t gamble what you can’t afford to lose.

  9. For 3 weeks Dallas has gotten the short-end of the stick with officiating, starting with the Redskins game at Washington, no PI/illegal contact on the Dak fumble in the end zone? Our wr was tackled. Then the dumb snap infraction call. You trdskins fans didn’t want to hear it. So although I recognize they missed a few calls that went our way, I don’t want to hear it. That female referee twice spotted the ball short of a first down when we actually got a first, she also did it against the redskins once, referees need to be full time employees with better training in such a huge sport, but we got robbed in Washington, so now it is even, those penalties happened so late that it wouldn’t have affected the outcome unless you got the onside kick, either way, we got screwed, you got screwed, balanced out

  10. Don’t gamble on a flawed system and you won’t have much to complain about. It really is just that simple.

  11. Let’s not act like this is the first time this has happened this year… this happens far more often than people would even realize. Whether it’s a spread or total score. There are bad calls that take points off the board all the time, its just not so magnified like the very end of a game is. Missed calls or back door covers is an assumed risk anybody who gambles has to know. And if they dont, they should.

  12. Plays like this occur all,the time. Officials missed a holding call on
    a roll out by Prescott as Beasley began his cut, Redskins DB
    clearly grabbed Beasley’s jersey.
    I would rather so a no call on a judgement call.
    No way a ref should make a judgement
    Call that effects the outcome. Sort of like the
    ridiculous call on the Cowboy’s center in the
    last Redskin Cowboy game.

  13. There’s been legal wagering in Las Vegas for decades. This “age” has been going on for a very long time.

  14. The fix was definitely “in” with the NBA at the professional level and multiple sports in the NCAA. People have gone to jail.

    Why would we assume it could never happen in the NFL?

  15. Also missed was an equally obvious face mask call against the Cowpukes on Colt McCoy.

    There were no such misses as noted that cost the Cowpukes anything.

    Still, this does not mitigate how awful the Washington secondary has been this year. Any competent offense shreds it.

  16. Why is it automatically the league fixing games with so many of the commenters? In a league where we have consistently seen the incompetency of the officials,why would this be any different? It is impossible to get every call right and it isn’t the first time this year we’ve seen them ignore a helmet to helmet, and it most surely won’t be the last.

  17. Terrible officiating that misses these obvious calls. I believe and probably always will that sports, especially pro sports has a fix to them. How in the world do all the officials miss that helmet to helmet and the Jersey grab on the play before that. Most of the rest of us see them and we’re not professionals. Totally ridiculous to not think fixed.

  18. He absorbed a vicious blow to the head from Cowboys safety Xavier Woods.
    ==============================================

    That “vicious blow” as you eloquently put it was their facemasks touching. There was no spearing, the shell of their helmets didn’t even make contact. Where else was Woods supposed to put his head? Make it disappear?

  19. Nobody pointing out that a missed extra point by Washington was actually what prevented them from covering the spread. Not some grand conspiracy by the NFL to help people betting Dallas…which is ridiculous.

  20. qckappa says: “How in the world do all the officials miss that helmet to helmet and the Jersey grab on the play before that. Most of the rest of us see them and we’re not professionals.”
    ==============================

    You have the benefit of watching 16 HD super-slo-mo instant replays from 3 different angles.

    Doing it in real time with 22 265lb bodies flying around is slightly more of a challenge.

  21. Dallas hasn’t benefited from a holding call since week 1 as you guys pointed out and the refs miss this call and now you’re calling for video assistance? You cant tell me Dallas’ D line wasnt held during that time

    Blown calls are part of the game. Always have been and always will be. I know this article isnt about a holding calls but if you have a video assistant to get every call and play correct then games would last even longer. Holding happens so often that it would go against what NFL ultimately wants which is more points scored. It would never happen.

  22. I don’t think the NFL should give a crap about what happens in Vegas or with betting. When that becomes the line of thinking, the sport is done with.

  23. The officials were run over the coals for the Ram/chief game, this game was officiated worse. How the NFL is so blinded by this but sees every player they can fine is unacceptable.

  24. Time for a mandatory referee-retirement age; the older officials simply cannot keep pace with the game.

  25. If they can’t be bothered to improve officiating for the sake of the game itself, they dam sure shouldn’t be doing it for gamblers.

  26. The lack of Consistency in officiating at the college and NFL level are hurting the sports popularity. People are starting to turn off because they don’t trust it or don’t expect a fair shake.

  27. Happens every game. Don’t get mad about the stuff that they miss… get mad about the calls they make that just flat didn’t happen.

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