OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The NFL admitted Monday to a late officiating error that allowed Jacksonville to kick the game-winning field goal in a 22-20 win over the Ravens on Sunday.
John Harbaugh said it was “pretty obvious” that the Jaguars offensive line wasn’t set as quarterback Blake Bortles snapped the ball with one second remaining and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil pulled him to the ground by the face mask, eliciting a 15-yard penalty and an untimed play that resulted in Jason Myers’ 53-yard field goal with no time remaining. The NFL issued a statement acknowledging that a false start should have been called, which would have resulted in the play being blown dead and a 10-second run-off to officially end the game.
“The correct call in this case would have been to penalize the offense for a false start because all 11 players were not set, and whistle to stop the play,” league spokesman Michael Signora said. “The ensuing 10-second runoff should have ended the game.”
Of course, the Ravens had 59 minutes, 59 seconds of action to play better and not allow the game to come down to an officiating mistake, but that’s what happens when you’re 2-7 and in the midst of the most disappointing season in franchise history. A high number of calls — many of them important — are missed throughout the course of 60-minute contests every week, with some benefiting and others hurting any given team.
Officiating in the NFL is a problem, but that’s nothing new and won’t change Sunday’s result.
Any number of plays from the final few minutes could have changed the final outcome, ranging from Sam Koch not punting the ball into the end zone for the first time all season to Kendrick Lewis successfully coming away with the game-clinching interception just a couple plays before the final one. Even after the officials missed the false start, Dumervil would be the first to tell you he cannot commit a facemask penalty in such a critical spot, which may have been the only scenario in which the Jaguars could have still won since most players on both teams had already given up on the play.
However you want to slice it, shoddy officiating at the end of the game still doesn’t excuse the Ravens for not playing well against a bad team at home with an extra week to prepare.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now,” Harbaugh said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s disappointing. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s just the way it goes.
“But in the end, we have to overcome all that stuff. I don’t care about officiating. I don’t care about weather. I don’t care about field conditions. I don’t care about our opponent. That’s the way our guys look at it. It does not matter.”