Another week, another missed pass interference call on last play of game

USA TODAY Sports

Last week, officials missed a blatant instance of pass interference (actually, two of them) in the win by the Chargers over the Chiefs. This week, it happened again.

On the final play of the Browns-Vikings game, with Cleveland leading 14-7, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins threw the ball to the end zone on a play that started 32 yards from the end zone. Browns defensive back Greedy Williams mugged Vikings receiver Adam Thielen in the end zone, keeping him from making a player on the ball.

Watch the video embedded in this link. Clearly, the Browns player has Thielen wrapped up and prevented from getting to the ball. No flag was thrown.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy has pointed out the failure to throw a flag, saying that he’s “anxiously awaiting” an explanation from the league for the failure to make the call.

He likely won’t be getting one. The NFL has taken a zero transparency approach to officiating controversies, with no one from the league office ever being made available to publicly explain the reasons for close calls and, when necessary, to admit that mistakes were made. The league benefits from bad calls that happen in the cluster of 1:00 p.m. ET games, minimizing the attention given to any specific blunders. By keeping their heads low and their mouths shut, the NFL also doesn’t draw attention to a situation that otherwise could be ignored, or at least minimized.

It’s not a sustainable approach. Without transparency, people will believe that the fix is in. Without accountability, people will believe the fix is in. Without a mechanism for helping people understand why decisions were made (with something more than perfunctory language that fails to delve into the details of each call and non-call), people will believe the fix is in.

In an age of exploding legalized gambling, the last thing the league needs is a critical mass of people who think the fix is in.

69 responses to “Another week, another missed pass interference call on last play of game

  1. As a fan of a team that routinely gets screwed you’ll never get me to feel bad about the Chiefs or anybody else. Oh well.

  2. Let’s not forget the offensive pass interference at the end of the Cowboys/Buccaneers game. Dallas would be 4-0 if the referees used at least one brain cell combined, and called the proper penalty.

  3. Adam Thielen is too nice to complain. He should have been more like Joey Bosa and in the blind ref’s face. Then the league would have to take notice. Bosa ain’t going back down.

  4. Why are you constantly touting these missed calls when the Steelers clearly blocked a field goal try, returned it for a touchdown and the incompetent officials blew the call? It was a 10 point swing that would’ve resulted in a tie game at the end of regulation? Not one single mention of this all week long? Your KC and Minn bias is way too obvious. And pathetic.

  5. I think they should call the game the same if there is 2 minutes or 2 seconds or the 1st quarter.

    This comes from analyzing the heck out the end of the game where refs are taught not to influence the game, but by not calling anything they are also influencing the game.

    I hope nfl looks into all this, for real, just don’t do NBA and call every freaking foul to extend the game 30 more minutes

  6. Where’s the sky judge. When the players start speaking out about it like Bosa people are going to pay more attention. The fans are tired of incompetent refs.

  7. To call this would be to say all you need to do to be successful is be down by one score as time expires. We can’t reward that. The only fix would be for PI calls inside two minutes to repeat the down, not be a spot foul.

  8. The league needs booth review officials that watch the entire game and can communicate, rule, or over-rule the call on the field. On this play in question, they communicate with the referee an obvious DPI, and the correct call is made. No need for a challenge, no need for change of possession or score- any call, any play, any time. There are plenty of calls or non-calls that could and should be made or overturned before the next play is snapped.

    The booth review officials call should also be given priority over the officials on the field, as their view, courtesy of various replay angles, zoom, slow-motion, etc., is likely to be as good or better than that of the field official. As it stands now, a field official that is out-of-position to make the call, to the point where it’s obvious they couldn’t have seen the key aspect of the play in question, and yet that view – which is no more than a guess – carries more weight than the replay views, which while not beyond the shadow of a doubt in some cases, is more conclusive than the view of the replay official. The assumption should be that the replay officials have the better view, given all the camera angles, zoom, and slow-mo available to them, not the field officials.

    All this can be done without any more delay than currently happens, and will result in a lot of missed calls or non-calls being put right. In some cases replay official could call for a 30 second or 1 minute review to the referee, who would announce the previous play is under replay review, but with a short time limit. The really bad calls or non-calls- like this one in question- are usually obvious and take no time to correct.

    With so many NFL games decided by one or two plays, at least those decisive plays should be made by the players on the field, not the officials missing a call that proves decisive.

  9. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The NFL is never going to allow the players to control the outcomes of the games/point spreads. Are you people crazy? We put a man on the moon fifty years ago. They could get every call correct without delaying the game if they wanted to. They don’t want to. Do you want to try to tell a group of billionaires how to run their lucrative business? Good luck with that. Just pay your money and shut up. Stop complaining. You’re playing the hand they want you to play. We keep acting like they’re trying to get these calls right, and they just can’t seem to figure it out. They’re playing dumb all the way to the bank, and we’re playing right along with them.

  10. We can all agree the refs are out of control with their terrible officiating, honestly it’s a shame.

  11. They also missed Mayfield running for a first down. Missed calls tend to balance out in a game. Refs definitely do make up calls once they realize that they missed one.

  12. Players, coaches, fans and owners need to do more to cut down on these obvious mistakes. They are way too frequent and the technology and resources to do so has been there for years, and to be able to do it without big delays.

    It is a poor reflection on how the league is managed when fans can see an obvious missed call seconds after the play, and nothing is done to correct it. Owners apparently don’t want to pay for more officials, and are less concerned about getting missed calls corrected- something that would lend more integrity to the game and the league. When games are decided by missed calls, and you could probably point to a couple dozen a year at least that are, players, fans and coaches are frustrated and exasperated that nothing is done to correct the problem- especially when the solution is at hand.

    It’s true that many calls are very close, and in those cases the solution isn’t to spend 15 minutes dissecting the replay to get what most likely is the right call. You do the best you can with the replay tools available in a limited time and move on. Most fans are happy to wait a minute to get the right call, which sometimes happens now in on-field official conferences, rather than let a bad call or non-call stand. But not having a process that allows officials to correct obvious mistakes or oversights, regardless of what type of call or non-call, is negligence on the league in upholding the integrity of the game.

    It’s not the fault of the officials in missing a call- so many plays happen fast and its not possible for them to have a good view of every element of every play and get every call correct in real time. It’s beyond human to be able to do that. But that’s why we have instant replay- only for some inane reason the NFL doesn’t choose to use it much of the time.

  13. We aren’t the packers. Those calls will never favor is. If that’s in lambeau, 6 flags get thrown. We are used to it.

  14. Mike, please review the whole game and every bad call and get back to us on who really won the game. Thanks.

  15. Let’s not pretend that this is a normal play. It’s a Hail Mary. It’s a desperation play where the QB throws it up for grabs hoping something good happens. Every other designed play is well orchestrated by the offense and defense, but this is just a malee. It’s a different kind of play and should not be officiated to the same standards.

  16. It’s not a missed call, it’s a refusal to call. Players do it on the last play because they know the refs won’t call it.

  17. Cant have the Bengals above both the Steelers AND the Browns now can we? Somebody smarter than me needs to come up with an algorithm following the NFL.COM power rankings and the calls on the field, it would be interesting.

  18. Referees manipulating the outcome of the game? Color me surprised….not really.

  19. “another missed pass interference call”

    I have a solution. Get rid of the PI penalty. I hate that rule worse than any other in the game. Go out and play ball!

  20. “In an age of exploding legalized gambling, the last thing the league needs is a critical mass of people who think the fix is in.”

    The last thing the league needs to be worried about is the game’s effect on gamblers … isn’t that the premise of the “sport” of gambling? To take a chance … let ’em roll!

    The NFL works incredibly hard to keep the league image as clear as possible, despite the deviations coming from a minority of the players or staff. Integrity is paramount with the league and to insinuate otherwise may not be wise …
    .

  21. I mean you can SAY this isn’t sustainable for the league, but the fact that there has always been bad officiating and little explanation from the NFL about it, paired with the continued wild ratings and revenue numbers the league enjoys, kind of proves you wrong.

  22. The fix has always been in. Who did the refs call on the phone that fateful day at Three Rivers Stadium?

  23. You can call holding on every play. Defensive holding on every play. A PI almost every play. I think in the fourth they just let them play more physical. Good non call.

  24. Sustainable? I’ve been watching NFL games since the 60s and bad officiating has always been part of the NFL. The NFL chooses to use part-time officials to adjudicate a billion dollar business. It’s a joke but the NFL counts the money.

  25. Starting to really like Belicheat’s position: Let coaches challenge anything, but they only get two challenges per game. This impacted the outcome of the game.

  26. Vikings played the Bucs last year and the refs threw a PI on the Vikings on a Hail Mary.
    I’d never seen it before, but look it up. I did see Jimmy Graham get an offensive PI after catching a Hail Mary, which was just as strange.

  27. Looks like a bad no-call.

    But if the refs do call it, there’s no guarantee the Vikings score a TD.

    And if the Vikings DO score a TD there’s REALLY no guarantee the kicker makes the point after.

    And if the kicker DOES make the point after there’s no guarantee Zimmer won’t find at least 7 other ways to lose the game in OT.

    But yeah, definitely looks like a bad no-call. So there’s that.

  28. Anyone who follows NFL games and taken the time to learn its officiating rules and standards clearly sees wagering growing influences and impacts on the outcomes of games.

  29. Vikings are a small market expansion franchise with a history of failure. Browns are a media darling superbowl contender with a COY HC.

    It could be intentional, it could be human nature, but it’s obvious which way the calls are going to go.

  30. The Browns defense dominated the entire game except the first drive. The Browns offense ran for over 150 yards to do enough on offense. Do you really expect the Refs to call a P.I. on a hail marry? By rule, they should. I agree. The issue I have is with the rule itself. Defense P.I. is far too egregious of a penalty and also makes a presumption that the offense would have caught the ball which is not a guarantee by any stretch. I am ok with whistles swallowed during Hail Marrys.

  31. Whatever the outcome of this specific complaint…please NO MORE replay reviews! the 2-3 minutes conferences on the field, the calls from NY overturning calls, the 5 minutes to review a simple play are worse than all the bad calls combined.
    a 60 minute game becomes a 3.5 hour telecast. Granted, advertising drives a lot of that, but replay reviews account for a lot, too. Can’t stand them.

  32. Get rid of instant replay. Call on the field stands, every time. Nuff said. Go by what the humans on the field see real time.

  33. My team has been screwed by officiating many times over the years. So has yours. Zoom out from your own team’s fate in any given game and think about the NFL product you consume as a whole. Perfect officiating is impossible in this sport. Too much of it is subjective. But you do not want every game getting decided by some ticky tack foul in the final minute. Accept it and move on. Root for your team to be good enough that it does not need perfect officiating in order to win, because it ain’t happening.

  34. Through the lens of my brown and orange tinted glasses it looked to me like Thielin was holding the defender and keeping him from turning around making an easy interception. I agree, should have been offensive pass interference.

  35. There should not be a 30 or 60 yard penalty on a team that is ahead with no time left on the clock. There will be a Hail Mary, last-play scrum as there has always been in football at all levels.

  36. Did you question the helmet to helmet hit at the goal-line on Rashad Higgins in the Browns-Chiefs.
    The Chiefs corner-back never tried to tackle Higgins, just went straight for the helmet to helmet contact to cause a fumble.
    NO PENALTY FLAG THROWN!!! The Referee was looking straight at the play!!!
    Again, did you question that???

  37. Did you question the helmet to helmet hit at the goal-line on Rashad Higgins in the Browns-Chiefs. The Chiefs corner-back never tried to tackle Higgins, just went straight for the helmet to helmet contact to cause a fumble. NO PENALTY FLAG THROWN!!! The Referee was looking straight at the play!!! Again, did you question that???
    Since it was the helmet to helmet hit on a Browns player, probably not!

  38. At this rate football will start to look a lot like basketball and soccer. More players will start flopping. Give them all an Oscar (I mean, the fish) for a smelly performance and send them home.

  39. I’ve watched the Vikings and the NFL for over forty years. Every team has questionable calls that benefit them and go against them during the course of a season. Outside of the first series, the Vikes offense was garbage for most of the game on Sunday…In the end they got what they deserved, a loss. Had they played better, they wouldn’t need a PI call at the end to bail them out. While I agree the calls should be made consistently whether there’s 10 minutes or 10 seconds left, in this case the Vikings deserved to lose the game.

  40. Meh. Do we really want teams who throw a desperate pass at the end of regulation being bailed out by interference. No we do not. They lost. They are looking for a miracle. Make them produce a miracle.

  41. WFT vs Atlanta was the most poorly officiated game I have watched in years. Whichever team lost had every reason to be furious. So many bad or missed calls.

  42. Billion dollar industry run with Wal-Mart officiating.
    NFL needs an official company that trains refs.or something. It’s ruining the game.

  43. Those type if throws to the endzone on the last play of the game are seeking for the call to happen. Its better that it doesnt or the new strategy will be to chuck it up for the end jone and make the defenders either stand down to allow the catch or commit the penalty and eat it that way instead.

  44. “Let’s not forget the offensive pass interference at the end of the Cowboys/Buccaneers game. Dallas would be 4-0 if the referees used at least one brain cell combined, and called the proper penalty.”

    -or-

    2-2 if the refs don’t screw the Chargers out of 2 touchdowns.

  45. Where was the ref ? How in the world do you let this go ? The refs are making NFL fans hate the game.

  46. If a team has to depend on last-second wishing, hoping, and praying, the Hail Mary becomes more like an on-side kick. It’s not tactical, it’s fingers-crossed. It’s called “good luck.”

  47. My Dad, RIP, used to tell me 30 years ago that the NFL was fixed. I didn’t believe him then. But now with all the “missed” calls and the NFL approving of legalized gambling, I am seriously beginning to wonder. I guess I’m one of the “critical mass of people.”

  48. Let’s not pretend that this is a normal play. It’s a Hail Mary. It’s a desperation play where the QB throws it up for grabs hoping something good happens. Every other designed play is well orchestrated by the offense and defense, but this is just a malee. It’s a different kind of play and should not be officiated to the same standards.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    That wasn’t a melee….it was AN INTENTIONAL mugging. BIG DIFFERENCE

  49. Also in all transparency I am a Vikings fan and our kicker would have missed the extra point anyway.

  50. The only way to fix this is to take the human element out of PI and other highly visible penalty calls, such as in-bounds catches, etc. Technology needs to make those calls. Holding, and line-play calls can still be made by the refs. Bad calls will always be a part of the game but they should be minimized. We have the technology available to help.

  51. NFL is becoming unwatchable, they care more about the entertainment aspect, than the football game.

  52. singularitynow says:
    October 5, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    Vikings are a small market expansion franchise with a history of failure. Browns are a media darling superbowl contender with a COY HC.

    It could be intentional, it could be human nature, but it’s obvious which way the calls are going to go.
    __________

    Minneapolis-St. Paul is the 16th-largest media market in the US. Cleveland is 34th. Vikings may have a history of losing Super Bowls but no one can touch the Browns’ history of failure. The Browns had a good team last year but I hardly think they’ve become the NFL’s media darling.

  53. You must have that eye in the sky / new york buzzz down to the refs to call penalties on such crucial plays .

    And when there is a review why ohhhh why does the ref on review it talk about wasting time we all have seen it 5 times whilehe’s just starting to see it on a 12 ” monitor screen that is just insane once again let new york decide it .

  54. Clearly the officiating in the NFL is the leagues weakness.
    I am a fan of football. I hold no feelings for one team.

  55. I will only say if you are losing on the last play of the game, Then don’t expect the officials to bail you out! Maybe if you had played better in the 2nd or 3rd quarter it wouldn’t come to this! Unless there is some blatant infraction like dragging a guy to the ground by his face mask, it should not be called. If they call pass interference in this situation then if Minnesota wins, Cleveland fans would say they got the home town call! The better team will won period!

  56. Nothing new here. Every week since the first games ever were played, there has been missed or questionable calls. Happens to everybody, sucks when it happens to you. Gotta live with it.

  57. And to think they called PI on Kendricks earlier in the game for the slightest of tugs on the jersey on a 4th down that gave Browns a new set of downs that lead to their first 8 points. In hindsight, the fix sure seemed to be in to let Cleveland win…

  58. The purpose of calling defensive P.I. is to award the receiver for beating his defender in a route so definitively, that the defender has no other choice but to grab or “interfere”. A hail mary at the end of the game does not involve any route running whatsoever. You just have a bunch of bodies standing in the end zone. Even if the offensive player pushes a defender to catch the ball, they’re still not going to call anything. The defense knows this and knows exactly what they can get away with. It’s practiced in training camp, probably at least once a week.

  59. To those commenting on Hail Marys… this was not one of those. This was a pass intended for a specific receiver (Theilen) and the defender wrapped him up and prevented him from having a fair chance to catch the ball. That’s pass interference, regardless of when it happens in a game. Blown non-call.

  60. Obviously most people on this thread never saw the play. It wasn’t a hail mary play. The Vikings had the ball on the Cleveland 26 yard line. It was clearly DPI and should have been called.

  61. Well, if so many of you think the NFL is so clearly fixing the games, why are you even watching? Find something else to do. You’d probably start watching pro wrestling and swear it was real. As for me, I’ll keep watching the NFL knowing that mistakes will be made. I can live with that.

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