Panthers coach Matt Rhule says the Browns got away with a penalty on the play before their game-winning field goal today.
With the clock running and seconds ticking off, Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett spiked the ball to stop the clock. But Brissett appeared to be briefly considering a fake spike, and he briefly looked up to see if he had a receiver open before stepping back and spiking the ball. By rule, spikes to stop the clock have to be immediate, or else they’re intentional grounding, and an official threw a flag for that. But the official who threw the flag was overruled for reasons Rhule said after the game that he didn’t understand.
“I started screaming, ‘Intentional grounding, 10-second runoff, game’s about to be over.’ They obviously called it and then changed it, and it was told to me that — I’m going to get in trouble here, but — it was told to me he just pump-faked it,” Rhule said.
Referee Brad Rogers explained after the game, “After discussion, we determined that stepping back does not disqualify the quarterback from spiking the ball and we allowed him to do that by rule.”
Browns kicker Cade York nailed a 58-yard field goal after the spike. If the intentional grounding had been called, it would have moved the Browns far enough back that they probably would have tried a Hail Mary instead of a field goal. It was a costly non-call for the Panthers.