Uncalled holding fouls fuel another primetime comeback

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams
Getty Images

For the second time in four nights, a team trailing an NFL game by the score of 16-3 generated a pair of touchdowns with less than 3:30 on the clock to win, 17-16. For the second time in four nights, uncalled holding fouls helped the effort.

On Monday night, it was Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith. On Thursday night, it was Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein.

Pete Damilatis, a producer at NBC Sports, tweeted images of four instances in the final two drives of Havenstein holding Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby, with the preferred move being a right forearm across the throat.

It happened at least twice on the drive that cut the score to 16-10, and at least twice on the drive that resulted in the game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Baker Mayfield to receiver Van Jefferson. And it happened on the game-winning touchdown pass from Mayfield to Jefferson.

Here’s the video, posted by the NFL’s official Twitter account, of the final play of the key drive. The hold can be seen plainly and clearly. Havenstein releases quickly, but he holds the hold long enough to slow down Crosby, who otherwise was closing in on Mayfield as he was preparing to throw.

Amazon’s Kirk Herbstreit spotted one of them, on third and 10 from the Raiders’ 24 with 6:32 to play. “I think that right tackle, Havenstein, gets away with one,” Herbstreit said. “Watch how he grabs onto him, around the neck.”

As with Smith on Monday night for the Bucs, if they’re not going to call it, why not keep doing it? Or, as with the Legion of Boom and their approach to constantly holding receivers in 2013, do it on every play and dare the officials to call it on every play.

On Monday night, it happened on the game-winning play, and it wasn’t called. On Thursday night, it happened on the game-winning play, and it wasn’t called.

Also, the Raiders weren’t complaining nearly enough about it — same as the Saints weren’t on Monday night.

That’s really the lesson here. Whether it’s incompetence or a subconscious desire by the officials to have two-score games get and stay interesting late (or even a Tim Donaghy-type situation, which cannot be completely disregarded given the proliferation of legalized gambling — and we’re definitely not accusing any of the officials from either game of being corrupt), the team on the wrong side of uncalled holding needs to be making it known, loudly and clearly, that holding clearly is happening.

108 responses to “Uncalled holding fouls fuel another primetime comeback

  1. Keep banging this drum, Mike. The league needs to know we are seeing this happen and feel the heat. I’m sick of blatant holding going uncalled and especially at critical points in a game. If the refs are being told to rig games there are other ways to do it.

  2. Star pass rushers get held multiple times in a series and it doesn’t get called consistently.

    Micah Parsons gets the arm bar once a series and it never gets called. He has yet to draw a holding penalty this year.

  3. If you complain about it you get a 15 yard penalty what are they supposed to do? The Refs have full authority to dictate an entire game to their will, No ones even mentioning the phantom interference call on when the ball was uncatchable an Tutu initiated the contact. You figure one of the 6 refs on the field wouldve saw atleast 1 of the 4 holds but its clear they had coordinated blindness.

  4. 73 percent of the public money bets were on the Raiders to cover the -7 or -6.5. The Rams broke that for the league’s betting partners with the first TD. The over-under wasn’t a consideration as it had been set at 42-43. So the league wanted the Rams to beat the spread to help its business partners from losing money, but they already had with the score at 16-10.

  5. The Refs have blinders on when it comes to a select few DL. Miles Garrett would have at least twice as many sacks if he wasn’t groped damn near every pass play. Whenever he isn’t double teamed he is getting molested.

  6. I think it’s as simple as not wanting to call it every single play. We hear it often that there’s holding on every play. It’s one reason they don’t want to make every call non-call reviewable. (I disagree. They should make it all reviewable, but put the onus on the coach to state what specifically they want reviewed, not the entire play for anything.)

  7. i dont disagree with you, but are we going through the raiders (last night) and saints (monday night) scoring drives to ensure they were clean of any offensive holding

  8. I don’t think it is incompetence or a subconscious desire, one week the ref get blamed for taking the game over and deciding games, then this. I think they just don’t want to be the ones that literally get involved in the outcome. My guess more human nature than anything else. The old saying “let them play” comes to mind. Every game has this happen, just when it is on National TV everyone see’s it. So would you rather let them play, or have the Ref’s calling 15 penalties a game and have that happen.

  9. Maybe they should stop complaining about something that happens every week in every game, and start worrying about Derek Carr doing his best Kyler Murray impression with that end of the half interception

  10. Very convenient isn’t it?! The WWNFL where every game comes down to the last play. A record number of games decided by 7 points of less, the MOST IN the history of the NFL in just over half of the season!!!! I mean they are registered as an Entertainment business and their job is to make sure people are staying with games right to the end for their sponsors and gambling sites, right?!

  11. The first time I saw this was during the second half of the Super Bowl between the Niners and Chiefs. On the famous Jet Chip Wasp play there is a lineman with his guy in a bear hug and it seemed like the Chiefs realized that no one was going to call holding or I doubt they wud have thought they cud have held up against that rush if u based it on how things went in the first half. I thought that game was a travesty, I just continue to watch because I love football and pretty much everything in the world is messed up so this is just the best we can get. Refs decide enough games every year that at least one team makes that playoffs that wudnt have and one team misses out.

  12. Mike – Glad you are calling attention to this. This started to happen in the early 2010s and has gotten worse. I remember a NE comeback against NO in 2013 that was aided by the same “neck hooks” that almost made Rob Ryan cry.
    But the League does not want QBs to get hit, so they do not call holding. And to make up for it, they call Phantom holds on running plays.

  13. Do you think it’s a coincidence that just about every playoff game last year was decided on the final play of the game? Close games generate TV ratings. TV ratings generate revenue. TV revenue pays all the big salaries and turns NFL franchises into money making machines. It’s Business 101.

  14. I hope the NFL can manage to correct this quickly, without players having to complain about it. Players begging for flags after every play is already a pain in my boy-parts.

  15. Complaining to referee is a constant occurrence, already. Thinking that more complaining will make the situation better is flawed. That numbs the referees to make changes. Learn where the referees draw the line, deal with it.

  16. I watched the twitter video. That holding play happens on nearly every play. Officials don’t call most holding plays because they want the offense. They basically admit that.

  17. Holding happens on many plays where it isn’t called every game. I guess the general rule is if you are holding onto a player between the shoulder pads they usually ignore it but not always. It’s usually only the most obvious ones the fans complain about so those are the ones that generally get called

    Yes, the refs didn’t call obvious holding but i bet if you watched every offense play of the game and looked hard enough there’s another 30 or 40 that were just not called because they weren’t deemed blatant enough.

  18. If anyone thinks the legalization of gambling (and the millions of dollars that change hands per game) and officials who have the power to make phantom calls or to blatantly ignore obvious penalties right in front of their face isn’t rife for corruption, their head is buried in the sand. Remember, the longest field goal in NFL history happened after the play clock was at zero. Now all of a sudden and on a regular basis, it takes trained professionals an extra second or more to see the play clock has expired and throw a flag.

  19. Yeah sure, it was the holding call! It’s not McDaniels or the poor management decisions over the past 12 months, lol!

    The Raiders are abysmal.

  20. This happens in all sports late in games. They let a lot go late not wanting a penalty to influence the outcome. The irony is dpi seems to be immune from this a lot.

  21. One more instance that common sense makes a person wonder about the new NFL partner. Seems like there are billions of reason to make games close.

  22. Oh please. And the uncalled facemask on the Baker sack in the 2nd that stalled their drive before it had a chance to get going. The uncalled DPIs on both sides. But yeah, let’s focus on this one. The game should not have been close but it was. When you don’t put a team away you risk leaving your fate in the hands of the refs. Just as it has ALWAYS been.

  23. There is holding on every single play in football. Always has been. Seems silly to point it out in these latest two games since you can always find it on any play if you are looking for it.

  24. This happens literally every game to Nick Bosa. It is what it is. The refs can’t call holding on every play. Where was this article after Super Bowl LIV?

    Great effort by Baker and although I don’t like the rams, happy for him!

  25. An uncalled hold happens multiple times every game. The inability to score against a depleted Rams team is far more reason they lost than any uncalled penalty.

  26. Welcome to our world. Missed holding calls have cost us at least 2, maybe 3 games this year. It’s crazy when you have to beat the other team and the refs. I know these things have a way of usually balancing out, but this year we have been really hit hard by bad officiating.

  27. You could call holding on linemen on almost every play if you wanted to. Watching Baker play makes me wonder just how good the other two guys in Carolina are. They must be awesome.

  28. Has Florio suddenly realized that there’s holding on almost every play in the NFL?
    This is not a new phenomenon, as it’s been the nature of the league for decades. Sometimes it’s more egregious than others, but it’s there and will continue to be regardless if the held players vigorously complain or not.
    And honestly not much can be done about if you don’t want flags on every play or have offences that can’t keep pass rushers from crushing quarterbacks onto the injury list.
    The NFL made their peace with that by tailoring the rules, and their enforcement, to have a higher scoring game with prolific offences. You can’t have that without the lenience on holding calls.

  29. Bringing in McDaniels and trading for Devante Adams set this team back three years.

    Just pathetic.

  30. There is a good possibility that holding can be called on most of not every play. Be careful what you wish for, as it is fans complain about the flow of the game, and officials being too influential, if they start calling every hold there will be a flags everywhere, no continuity, no flow.

  31. Too many people think that allowing clutching and grabbing by the O-line and the DBs is the officials “letting them play.” Or “letting the players determine the outcome.” If that were true there would be no need for officials at all. The Legion of Boom dared the refs to flag them on every play, and the 1975 Flyers won the Stanley Cup by clutching and grabbing on every play – knowing the refs would not only refuse to call every penalty they saw, but would uphold the NHL tradition of balancing penalty calls. Call the fouls, dammit!

  32. if the refs were simply held accountable in the same manner the players and coaches are they would be more more inclined to call the game correctly which in turn would force players to clean up their game but instead they are shielded by the league and allowed to be terrible at their job. we all see it, we all know whats going on but yet we all spend our time and money watching this and filling the nfls pickets full of our hard earned cash. all it would take is a couple weeks of boycotting. hit their pockets and they will get the message. i would love to see a major fan boycott and id be right there with you!!!

  33. “Missed calls, bad calls, no-calls………..it sometimes balances out for all teams over the course of a game, usually over the course of three games, and certainly over the course of a season.”
    -Dr. Aaron Rodgers

  34. The NFL won’t care until it decides a Super Bowl or something. Even then if it generates billions from bets they won’t care probably.

  35. I don’t spend much time considering the potential depths of corruption between bad calls, no-calls, and sports gambling’s effect on the NFL (which everything everywhere is always about money) BUT it’s time to start putting these zebras under the microscope. It’s out of control.

  36. The Refs threw flags on the Rams all night… but you want bring up replays of holding penalties? Show the five or more that happen every time AD is in the game that don’t get called.

  37. It would be burying your head in the sand to deny that officials in the NFL have been approached by gamblers. It’s only a matter of time until one or more of them accepts the offer.

  38. This type of thing is only worthwhile, if you inspect every single play of the entire game, and point out every time the referee missed a penalty. If you only pick and choose on certain plays when they benefit certain teams to show when penalties were missed, then all you’re doing is prejudicing the public. I see missed holding calls, missed facemasks, missed interference in the NFL all the time. But this has been brought up now why? Because somebody hates Baker Mayfield, or somebody is a big Raiders fan, I don’t know.

  39. Yes, and a person could also argue that several of the holding penalties that WERE called against the Rams were pretty ticky tack.

  40. David Muehlhausen says:
    December 9, 2022 at 8:53 am
    The NFL won’t care until it decides a Super Bowl or something. Even then if it generates billions from bets they won’t care probably.


    Lol it has decided Super Bowls. The refs control outcomes because you cannot challenge certain blatant no calls or calls. It sucks.

  41. There is holding on every offensive play period. Also had the raiders done their job it wouldn’t have mattered.

  42. In this high tech day and age, I just don’t understand why each and every play isn’t reviewed before the next play is allowed to occur. This way, the refs can ferret out each and every infraction and get the games on a truly level playing field. The infractions could even be used as a teaching moment for the players in their quest to be perfect. The games might take 10 hours to complete, but I think the networks would like their programming time being filled up and the stadium concessions would see a huge increase in sales. Sounds flawless, no?

  43. These were not nitpick holds. They were blatantly obvious in the open for anyone watching the game to see. McDaniels deserves most of the blame for playing not to lose for 3 quarters, but if the officials just occasionally do their job the Raiders win this game anyway. Embarrassing game for the Raiders and for this officiating crew.

  44. If we slow down and carefully observe each NFL pass play, we’re going to spot an offensive hold somewhere most of the time. It’s a situation where one official–the referee–is watching five or six blockers against at least four pass rushers. He’s going to miss a lot of the holds. Subconsciously, they are probably not reaching for the flag the way they might earlier in the game. But the paranoia about fixes: So, we’ve got refs not calling holding they saw, but what about Tillery’s unbelievably stupid penalty? Or the decision to use press coverage against a team with no timeouts that must score a TD? Too many uncontrolled variables for some sort of conspiracy.

  45. For all of you who believe the NFL is fixed… why are you still watching? The integrity of the game is the only thing the league has. If word got out that games were truly fixed, it would be devastating financially to everyone involved.

  46. I am not a fan of either team but we can find a lot of penalties that are not called. How many times did holding not been called on the defense? How many time has psd interference hasn’t been called on the offense?

  47. I watched a Steelers/Giants game 2 years ago where Watt was being held so often the announcer made a comment that if he didn’t Watt would have had sacks on most plays. My issue is if the left tackle can’t stop his man then give him help, it’s not the refs job to even things up. I saw the same thing happening to the Cowboys Micah Parsons against the Giants. He had 2 sacks but could have had 10. We all know the teams cannot make a video of these types of issues or they would be fined and loses picks but trying to keep games close is getting ridiculous.

  48. I think Derek Carr’s second half 11-yard performance had something to do with it…just saying…

  49. Change holding to a 15 yard penalty, warn the O Lineman on the next one and disqualify them on the 3rd one.

  50. Great, now after all this publicity on OL holding we will see games all weekend with flags thrown. Holding happens on every single play and I think any football fan knows that. The unfortunate problem is now with gambling the lack of calls or over abundance of calls will always be criticized. So on that 25 yard run that your favorite team got on 3rd and 12 get ready for some letdowns and yelling at the TV

  51. Let’s not forget that the Rams were the beneficiary of an obvious no call pass interference in the final minute of the 2019 NFC Title game against the Saints. The failure of the refs to call PI allowed the Rams and not the Saints to go to the Super Bowl.

    TV has exposed either the incompetence or the corruption of NFL referees.

  52. That wasn’t even a hold. What a stretch at blaming others for the Raiders meltdown.

  53. Holding wasnt the reason the Raiders lost.if they cant put up a winning performance against the depleted Rams with Baker Mayfield at quarterback,a guy who has been in camp for less than a week, then they are an awful team and their fans must realize this fact.Guess Adams cant be Superman all the time.

  54. Of course these missed or blown calls have nothing to do with gambling or the point spread & that’s exactly what the NFL will keep telling us. So either these game officials openly inept at doing their job or something very wrong is being allowed to happen involving a “script” per say. As it stands now there is ZERO consistency with in-game calls from officials – you can’t keep missing OBVIOUS fouls or make up phantom infractions on these national TV games with so many eyes watching these blundering referees!

  55. This nothing compared to the Chiet’s Super Bowl “victory.”

    Bosa was held and leg whipped the whole game while Bill Vinovich’s crew hamstrung SF with ticky tack fouls. Remember Kittle’s 40 yard catch to get in FG range where he had to get himself out of Sorenson’s hold from a trail position?

  56. The Rams offensive line is horrible and the only way they can keep the defense off of the quarterback is to hold. The Rams should bring Jason Peters in after this year because he would be a major upgrade over the stiff they have playing left tackle.

  57. Except Smith’s actually got a game winning TD called back because of it. And Brady still got them in the endzone to win.

  58. Havenstein was clearly getting cooked by Mad Maxx, so this comment is not a defense of him.

    But I think we’re oversimplifying this a bit.

    Calling holding in football correctly is almost — but not quite — as hard as calling a block or a charge in basketball.

    Raise your hand if you often don’t spot the hold in real time and then see the flag, and assume it must be holding because you couldn’t actually see any of the other obvious, easily called penalties we fans notice right away. My hand is up. And I’m better at spotting holding in real time than most of the people I watch games with.

    And as for the pictures posted on twitter, it’s hard to tell from those whether or not a play is actually a hold. The “arm bar” alone does not constitute a hold unless the o-lineman keeps it there and restrains the pass rusher’s movement without letting go.

    Even John Madden used to say Reggie White got “held on every play.” Browns fans complain bitterly (and correctly) that a number of egregious holds didn’t get called on the famous Elway “drive.” The Buffalo Frank Reich comeback also featured a key hold no-call. In the 2018 Eagles – Saints playoff game, the Saints took the lead on a clock draining drive sustained by a series of holding no-calls by Andrus Peat on Fletcher Cox, who was whipping Peat like a rented mule unless Peat held him.

    And this is to say nothing of the times when holding *did* get called in a timely, game-changing fashion, after not being called for an entire game.

    Bottom line; as long as there are elite pass rushers, there are going to be linemen who hold and don’t get called for it every time they do.

    They either need to start calling it every time it happens, or change the rule.

  59. And those durn refs don’t call OPI at the end of games either.
    Come to think of it, they don’t call DPI unless it is double-plus super egregious.

    Gosh darn, maybe it does balance out, not just over the course of a season, but during nearly every single play at the end of games..

  60. Most of the time when you see arms around the rusher’s neck, it’s because they used a rip move which negates holding calls

  61. Just another way for the league to produce the outcome that they desire NFL national fixed league it’s all about the money

  62. And who’s fault was it when the ref’s did call holding on the Rams and the Raiders couldn’t stop them on 1st and 20 late in the 4th on their first TD drive? News flash: the Raiders aren’t as good as they think they are.

  63. The NFL’s officials are either inconsistent, incompetent, or both. As part-time employees, they are not spending the time necessary to become the very best at their craft. The players train hard all year. The officials, not so much, and it shows. Since it apparently isn’t all that important to them, maybe the NFL owners can save more money by just getting part-time volunteers to do the officiating.

  64. Holding, much like PI, is one of those fouls that occurs far more often than it is called, and both fouls seem to be called at times that are suspiciously convenient for one team or another. Example, it isn’t uncommon to see an amazing play wiped out because of a hold on the opposite end of the field, or a team that is otherwise dead and buried get new life on 3 and 26 from a soft PI. Or, you’re’ Micah Parsons and you get held on 50% of your snaps.

  65. It’s to the point you have to ask, what’s the point of spending a top 5 draft pick on a guy like Will Anderson when you know he’s just going to be held every play anyway? The less impact a defensive player can have — no matter how talented or motivated he is — the less his value.

  66. Ha ha ha. I defy you to analyze any long td drive in the nfl that doesn’t have a play with holding that isn’t called.

  67. steppinginpilesofrexryan says:
    December 9, 2022 at 9:42 am
    Of course these missed or blown calls have nothing to do with gambling or the point spread & that’s exactly what the NFL will keep telling us. So either these game officials openly inept at doing their job or something very wrong is being allowed to happen involving a “script” per say. As it stands now there is ZERO consistency with in-game calls from officials – you can’t keep missing OBVIOUS fouls or make up phantom infractions on these national TV games with so many eyes watching these blundering referees!


    Anyone denying there isn’t funny fixing going on to make it seem like these are the only refs in sports who don’t know the rules, are blind at certain times or make up penalties at random, is not playing with a full deck.

    Anyone who watches sports knows there is a ridiculous amnount of shenanigans that occcurs during an NFL game as compared to MLB, the NHL, NBA or English League Soccer, any of the high level pro sports leagues.

    It’s simply impossible to be this inept at your craft and keep getting paid 6 figures.

    So insulting to the customer’s intelligence.

  68. And what about the running into the kicker by the raiders that wasn’t called. And what the punt returner interference that was called. Sure looked like he pushed in the back into the punt returner. Isn’t that called a block to the back? We could do this for both teams.

  69. The final drive also should have started at the 17 instead of at the 2, since the Raiders punter celebrated the lucky bounce on his punt with the “throat slash” gesture, which is supposed to get you 15 yards.

  70. You mean to suggest that there were uncalled holding penalties in an NFL game?? Wow, this is breaking news. Stop the presses, hold the phone, call Oprah

  71. wardo says:
    December 9, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Holding on the end zone is two points and a turn over.


    Sounds like an excuse to me. Maybe the Raiders just aren’t as good as you think they are kiddo!

  72. The Raiders shouldn’t even be in that position against the lowly Rams. Let the Jarrett Stidham era begin.

  73. Instead of blaming the refs, blame the Raider that knocked the ball out of Bakers hands after the play was over.

  74. So Gibby is just fine with a DE getting tackled in the end zone and the wrong team winning the game because of it. Good to know.

  75. There’s a simple solution to this. Make holding legal on offense and defense. It’s up to the player to work around it. The only time a flag should be thrown on a hold is if there’s clear pass interference.

  76. Blockers often get rewarded by officials when they release the ‘hold’ almost immediately – demonstrating to officials that the blocker is ‘complying ‘ A non-call during a critical drive is consistent with fans desire to let the players decide the game. Of course fans will complain unless it is ‘their’ team that gets the benefit.

  77. If you actually believe that the NFL is rigged, then you should never call for the firing of a head coach because their team loses. If the outcome is six, why would you punish someone for losing if they really had no control over whether their team won or lost?

  78. Whenever I’m watching a game, I’m always thinking this would be much more exciting if there were more holding calls.

  79. Every aspect of this sport it bogus. Week after week we are watching “arrainged” outcomes.
    I’ve read posts that state Vegas lives off the juice and cares little about the outcome because they cant be hurt. Total BS…. Vegas has both winning weeks and loosing weeks when the games are straight. The last 3 years have been pure gold with crazy “upsets”on a weekly basis.

  80. Chill_Mickelson says:
    December 9, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    And some arranged outcomes too


    Sounds like the elections

  81. NHL has the best officiating of the four major sports. All officials are full time employees of the NHL, there are four officials for twelve players (as opposed to six part time, older officials for 22 players in the NFL)- each official is in great shape due to all the skating, and the two most important calls in the sport – goals and offsides, are subject to a central review system in Toronto by other full-time officials.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.