We had been robbed! Most memorable officiating controversies for all 32 NFL groups

It’s precisely two years to the day because the notorious defensive pass interference no-call within the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game of the 2018 NFL season. It is without doubt one of the most up-to-date large officiating controversies, but it surely’s removed from the one one. Rightly or wrongly, each NFL staff’s fan base has not less than one name or non-call from over time that also leaves it irate. Missed penalties, questionable flags, iffy rulings from the replay sales space … we have seen all of it.

In order we prepare for the conference championship games this weekend, our NFL Nation reporters picked out one such controversy for every staff. Which officiating blunder — or perceived blunder — nonetheless makes followers irate for all 32 groups?

Leap to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF


The Music Metropolis Miracle, Jan. 8, 2000. The loss to the Titans within the AFC wild-card matchup was highlighted by Frank Wycheck’s lateral to Kevin Dyson that resulted within the game-winning kickoff return landing. The in-game evaluate produced inconclusive proof to overturn the decision, and a pc analyst employed by NFL Movies deemed it appropriate, however Buffalo followers to today imagine the lateral was really a ahead go. The sport marked the start of a 17-season playoff drought for the Payments and is now an addition to a line of unfortunate Buffalo sporting occasions. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

The Snowplow Sport, Dec. 12, 1982. This one most likely nonetheless makes Don Shula indignant. The Patriots beat the Dolphins resulting from a fourth-quarter area objective aided by Patriots snowplow operator Mark Henderson veering away from his activity of clearing the yard markers and as an alternative clearing out a clear path for the New England to place down and kick the ball. The 33-yard area objective was good, resulting in a 3-Zero Patriots win in a strike-shortened common season.

Shula protested the decision below the NFL’s unfair act, claiming it gave the Patriots a aggressive benefit. Commissioner Pete Rozelle mentioned there was nothing he may do as a result of there was no rule in opposition to it, though after the season the NFL banned snowplow use throughout video games. Each groups made it to the playoffs that yr, the place the Dolphins bought revenge within the type of a 28-13 win and a visit to Tremendous Bowl XVII. — Cameron Wolfe

Hamilton roughs the passer, Dec. 18, 1976. In an AFC divisional-round playoff recreation in Oakland, the Patriots led 21-17 with 1:24 to play. The Ken Stabler-led Raiders offense confronted a third-and-18 from their very own 28-yard line, and when a go fell incomplete, the Patriots had been one lengthy shot play away from victory … or in order that they thought. Referee Ben Dreith referred to as Patriots defensive sort out Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton for a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on the play, giving the Raiders new life. The Raiders marched down the sphere to attain the game-winning landing. — Mike Reiss

Theft in Motown, Dec. 21, 1997. Driving for a possible go-ahead landing halfway by way of the fourth quarter, the Jets — needing a win to safe a playoff berth — had been intercepted on a halfback possibility go by Leon Johnson. Lions cornerback Bryant Westbrook caught the ball ultimately zone for a touchback, however a replay confirmed he was out of bounds. There have been no instantaneous replay evaluations in these days, and the Jets misplaced 13-10 and missed the playoffs in Invoice Parcells’ first season as coach. — Wealthy Cimini


The substitution trick, Jan. 10, 2015. In an AFC divisional playoff recreation, the Ravens fumed concerning the Patriots’ use of misleading ineligible receiver performs, which in the end resulted in a 35-31 loss. The controversy centered on Patriots operating again Shane Vereen checking in with the referees as an ineligible receiver on one drive however nonetheless lining up as a large receiver outdoors the sort out field. Then New England tight finish Michael Hoomanawanui lined up because the left sort out and caught a pair of passes. The Ravens had been confused about which gamers to match up with in protection, and the Patriots scored on that drive to chop into Baltimore’s 14-point lead within the second half.

Two months later, the NFL passed a rule that makes it illegal for an offensive participant sporting an eligible quantity — between 1 and 49, or 80 to 89 — to report as ineligible and line up outdoors the sort out field. — Jamison Hensley

The Pacman penalty, Jan. 9, 2016. Adam “Pacman” Jones’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty within the notorious 2016 AFC wild-card spherical nonetheless stings. The decision got here after Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for taking out Steelers large receiver Antonio Brown. Jones’ further 15-yard penalty, for causes that had been unclear on the time, put the Steelers in place to aim a 35-yard area objective within the pouring rain. Naturally, the Steelers capitalized on the benefit and hit the game-winning kick with 14 seconds to play. And moreover, the Steelers weren’t penalized for having assistant coach Joey Porter on the sphere, which is in opposition to league guidelines. — Ben Child

Bottlegate, Dec. 16, 2001. With their playoff hopes on the brink in Week 14, the Browns confronted fourth-and-2 from the Jacksonville 12-yard line with 1:08 to play. Cleveland quarterback Tim Sofa discovered Quincy Morgan for what gave the impression to be a primary down. However after Sofa’s spike stopped the clock, officers interjected and declared they’d return and evaluate whether or not Morgan caught the ball.

Throughout the replay, bottles got here raining down out of the stands onto the sphere, which continued after officers overturned the decision. Twenty minutes later, gamers got here again from the security of the tunnels so the sport might be completed. Throughout an impromptu information convention afterward, Browns president Carmen Coverage famous, “These bottles are plastic. They do not pack a lot of a wallop.” — Jake Trotter

The Thanksgiving coin toss, Nov. 26, 1998. Tied at 16 on the finish of regulation on Thanksgiving Day, the Steelers and Lions met at midfield for the additional time coin toss. Jerome Bettis appeared to name tails because the official flipped the coin, however referee Phil Luckett heard him say heads. As he picked up the coin, Luckett introduced Bettis had referred to as heads and the coin landed on tails. The Lions bought the ball and kicked a 42-yard area objective in three minutes to win within the sudden-death format.

After the sport, Luckett advised reporters that Bettis referred to as “heads-tails,” which Bettis vehemently denied. Later, video with enhanced audio aired by KDKA confirmed Bettis telling then-coach Invoice Cowher on the sideline that he referred to as “hea … tails.” The controversy modified how the NFL did coin flips, requiring gamers to make their choice earlier than the toss. — Brooke Pryor


Hopkins goes out of bounds, Nov. 21, 2016. On the opening possession of the Texans’ Monday Evening Soccer recreation in Mexico Metropolis in opposition to the Raiders, quarterback Brock Osweiler threw a go to DeAndre Hopkins that was blown useless when an official dominated he stepped out of bounds as he ran for a landing, although replays appeared to indicate Hopkins was in bounds. Houston’s drive finally stalled, and the Texans settled for a area objective in a 27-20 loss to the Raiders.

There have been two different questionable calls later in that recreation. Within the fourth quarter with the rating tied at 20, Lamar Miller ran on third-and-2 and appeared to have the primary down — however was referred to as quick. The Texans then went for it on fourth down, and operating again Akeem Hunt once more appeared to get the primary down. Hunt was dominated quick, and head coach Invoice O’Brien challenged the spot and misplaced. 5 performs later, the Raiders scored the game-winning landing. After the sport, O’Brien mentioned, “, we bought all of those cameras, and we will not get that proper.” — Sarah Barshop

“Horrible job. Horrible.” Oct. 18, 1998. Former Colts coach Jim Mora uttered that concerning the officiating after his staff misplaced to Steve Younger, Jerry Rice and the 49ers 34-31. The Colts jumped out to 21-Zero lead on the highway earlier than the 49ers bought again into the sport with the assistance of the officers. The Colts had two interceptions that had been negated resulting from holding penalties. On one other play, the officers dominated 49ers receiver J.J. Stokes was out of bounds on a landing reception however modified the decision after speaking about it. The officiating was so dangerous that the NFL later issued an announcement saying that the officers had made errors within the recreation. — Mike Wells

Myles Jack wasn’t down, Jan. 21, 2018. The Jaguars had been main the Patriots 20-10 early within the fourth quarter of the AFC title recreation when the Patriots used a trick play wherein receiver Danny Amendola threw a go to operating again Dion Lewis. However Jack ran Lewis down after a 22-yard achieve and ripped the ball out of Lewis’ grasp as they went to the bottom. Jack ended up with the ball and bought up and headed for the tip zone, however officers blew the play useless and stopped what would have been a landing.

After reviewing the play, the officers dominated that Jack was down by contact and the Jaguars took over on their very own 33-yard line. The Jaguars went three-and-out after the turnover, and the Patriots responded with their first of two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Had officers not prematurely blown Jack’s return useless, the Jaguars would have been forward 27-10 and your complete complexion of the sport would have modified. The Patriots gained 24-20. — Mike DiRocco

Steve McNair’s TD ought to have counted, Nov. 12, 2001. Down 16-10 on Monday Evening Soccer, the Titans had the ball on the Ravens’ 1-yard line when McNair dove into the tip zone behind middle Bruce Matthews for what would have been the go-ahead landing. However the landing was taken off the board as a result of Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware was referred to as for offside and the play was blown useless when he made contact with a Titans offensive participant. Each groups performed by way of the whistle, and Tennessee thought it scored the go-ahead landing. With three seconds on the clock, McNair as soon as once more tried to punch it in for the rating however Sam Adams, Corey Harris and Ray Lewis stopped the run wanting the objective line to protect the win as time expired. — Turron Davenport


Elway-to-Kay dominated incomplete, Jan. 25, 1987. The Broncos held a 10-7 lead over the Giants late within the first half of Tremendous Bowl XXI, with the ball at their very own 13-yard line. On a second-and-12, John Elway hit Clarence Kay for a 28-yard achieve and a primary down. But officers on the sphere dominated the go incomplete and checked an accessible replay in what’s believed to be the primary time replay was utilized in a Tremendous Bowl. However that was deemed inconclusive, so the decision of incomplete stood. On the CBS broadcast, Pat Summerall and John Madden each believed the go was a completion. And several other minutes later, after the sport had resumed, CBS had a replay accessible that confirmed Kay had caught the ball.

Too late, nonetheless. The Giants sacked Elway for a security on the play following the throw to Kay to make the rating 10-9. Broncos kicker Wealthy Karlis then missed a 34-yard area objective on the final play of the primary half, and the Broncos by no means regained any momentum in what turned a 30-point second half and a 39-20 victory for the Giants. — Jeff Legwold

Gonzalez’s non-touchdown, Jan. 4, 1998. To today, Tony Gonzalez — not probably the most neutral observer — will insist he landed ultimately zone on a third-down catch within the third quarter of a divisional-round recreation. Gonzalez has a sound argument, however he was as an alternative dominated out of bounds, and the Chiefs had no recourse in these pre-instant replay days. In order that they settled for a area objective, however the additional 4 factors would have been helpful. The Chiefs misplaced 14-10. The Broncos went on to win the Tremendous Bowl, a future which will nicely have been ready for the Chiefs had Gonzalez been given the landing. — Adam Teicher

“The Holy Curler,” Sept. 10, 1978. The Chargers led by six with 10 seconds remaining, however the Raiders had the ball on the Chargers’ 14-yard line with one final probability to win the sport. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler was about to go down for a sack and flipped the soccer underhand out of desperation. Operating again Pete Banaszak could not corral the soccer and as an alternative swatted it ahead. Tight finish Dave Casper briefly kicked it round himself earlier than falling on it ultimately zone, giving the Raiders an inconceivable victory.

Fumbling ahead was allowed then — although the play prompted the NFL to implement a brand new rule stating that solely the fumbling participant can advance the soccer after the two-minute warning — however fumbling on function was not. Official Jerry Markbreit made the decision from behind the motion, ruling a fumble as a result of he could not decipher makes an attempt to push the ball ahead. The Chargers completed that season 9-7, one recreation behind the Broncos within the AFC West. — Alden Gonzalez

The Tuck Rule, Jan. 19, 2002. After an preliminary ruling of fumble when a blitzing Charles Woodson dislodged the ball from Tom Brady with 1:50 to play in a divisional playoff recreation the Raiders led 13-10, the decision was modified to an incomplete go after a video evaluate. However most imagine it didn’t present sufficient proof to overturn the preliminary name, as some photographs confirmed Brady with each arms on the ball on the time of impression. New England had new life, drove for a game-tying area objective after which gained it in additional time.

In March 2013, the Tuck Rule was abolished by a vote of 29-1 (Washington and New England abstained). “Tom Brady owes me his home,” Woodson laughed on the information. “I am the explanation why he is married to who he is married to. I am a purpose for lots of that. All the things. As a result of they overturned that decision. Tom, c’mon now, fess up. It was a fumble. It is nonetheless a fumble.” — Paul Gutierrez


#DezCaughtIt, Jan. 11, 2015. When a play will get its personal hashtag, you already know you had been jobbed. Within the divisional spherical of the playoffs, Dez Bryant made a spectacular fourth-down catch of a Tony Romo fade go close to the Inexperienced Bay objective line that ought to have put the Cowboys in place to take the lead late within the fourth quarter. As a substitute, the play was overturned by way of replay as a result of it was deemed Bryant didn’t full the method of creating a catch — regardless of a number of steps and lunging to the objective line.

Beneath the current rules, Bryant’s reception would have stood. Who is aware of if the protection may have stopped Aaron Rodgers on the ultimate drive had Dallas taken the lead, however the Cowboys positive would’ve preferred to seek out out. — Todd Archer

The Trey Junkin play, Jan. 5, 2003. The NFL admitted lacking a go interference name on the ultimate play of a playoff recreation wherein the Giants blew a 24-point result in the 49ers. The play began with Junkin’s dangerous snap, which pressured holder Matt Allen to scramble and finally chuck a go downfield. Offensive lineman Wealthy Seubert, eligible on the play, was principally tackled earlier than the ball arrived. No penalty flag for that infraction. Sport over. Giants lose. A penalty would’ve resulted in offsetting penalties and given the Giants one other probability for a profitable area objective. As a substitute, they misplaced 39-38. — Jordan Raanan

“Keep off the bottle,” Dec. 9, 2018. That suggestion from security Malcolm Jenkins got here after a controversial name on the opening kickoff of the Eagles-Cowboys recreation that went in Dallas’ favor and helped determine the division. Jenkins’ hit on Jourdan Lewis brought on a fumble that Kamu Grugier-Hill got here out of the pile with. However the refs, citing “no clear restoration,” gave possession to the Cowboys, denying the Eagles an enormous momentum swing. “That was a fairly horrible name,” Jenkins mentioned. “So whoever’s watching that in New York ought to keep off the bottle.” — Tim McManus

Mel Grey’s phantom catch, Nov. 16, 1975. Washington and the St. Louis Cardinals each entered 6-2. Washington led by a landing with St. Louis dealing with fourth-and-goal on the 7-yard line with sufficient time for yet one more play in regulation. Quarterback Jim Hart’s go hit Grey’s arms ultimately zone, however the ball rapidly popped out, and after Grey hit the bottom he grabbed his helmet in frustration. One official signaled incomplete, however after a number of seconds of chaos, one other signaled a landing.

The Cardinals gained in additional time and went on to win the division whereas Washington missed the playoffs by two video games — however in addition they entered a final-game loss to Philadelphia realizing they had been already eradicated. Two senators later quizzed commissioner Pete Rozelle concerning the play throughout anti-blackout laws hearings. A season-ticket holder even filed a lawsuit, which was rapidly thrown out. — John Keim


He was over the road, Nov. 5, 1989. With visiting Chicago defending a 13-6 lead with 32 seconds to play, Inexperienced Bay quarterback Don Majkowski evaded Bears defensive finish Hint Armstrong and scrambled outdoors the pocket, the place he threw an obvious 14-yard landing go to Sterling Sharpe. An official, nonetheless, felt Majkowski crossed the road of scrimmage earlier than the ball left his hand and referred to as a penalty. Because the Bears celebrated, replay officers started reviewing the play. After a four-minute delay, the replay official dominated that — even with out clear indeniable video proof — Majkowski was behind the road and awarded the landing (and victory) to the Packers. — Jeff Dickerson

The picked-up flag, Jan. 4, 2015. There are lots of to select from right here over the previous decade, from the Calvin Johnson catch rule to Calvin Johnson’s batted ball out of the tip zone to Trey Flowers‘ phantom hands-to-the-face in opposition to Inexperienced Bay. The decision that also resonates, although, was the picked-up go interference flag thrown on Dallas linebacker Anthony Hitchens within the Lions’ wild-card recreation in opposition to Dallas.

The Lions had been main 20-17 and driving when the flag was thrown after which picked up on a 3rd down. As a substitute of a primary down placing Detroit in area objective vary, the Lions punted, gave up a drive for a landing and misplaced 24-20, persevering with the staff’s playoff dropping streak. “That was trash,” former Lions defensive lineman Darryl Tapp mentioned on the time. The league then apologized for the missed name, but it surely mattered little with Detroit out of the playoffs. — Michael Rothstein

Fail Mary, Sept. 24, 2012. it is dangerous when a play has its personal title. With substitute officers working the sport in Seattle due to a labor dispute between the NFL and its referees, a Hail Mary fell first into the arms of Packers security M.D. Jennings earlier than Seahawks receiver Golden Tate tried to tug it away. It led to mass confusion earlier than the officers lastly referred to as it a Seattle landing to win the sport 14-12. Two days later, the common referees had been again. Years later, nearly everybody related to the Packers believes it was an interception. — Rob Demovsky

The unique Hail Mary, Dec. 28, 1975. Main Dallas 14-10 with 24 seconds remaining within the divisional playoffs, the Vikings had been the victims of a essential no-call after Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach launched a prayer to Drew Pearson ultimately zone. Pearson admitted years later that he used his “outdoors arm to get inside leverage on [Vikings cornerback] Nate Wright,” which many thought was a deliberate push off that ought to have resulted in offensive go interference.

Pearson caught the ball in opposition to his hip and bumped into the tip zone to provide the Cowboys an eventual 17-14 edge over their NFC rival. The play ended Minnesota’s run of two straight journeys to the Tremendous Bowl and brought on such outrage inside Metropolitan Stadium that one fan launched a whiskey bottle on the head of official Armen Terzian, who was momentarily knocked unconscious. — Courtney Cronin


Roddy was held, Jan. 20, 2013. Within the 2012 NFC Championship Sport in opposition to San Francisco, receiver Roddy White mentioned he was held/interfered with by NaVorro Bowman on a fourth-and-Four play from the 49ers’ 10-yard line with simply over a minute remaining. Matt Ryan’s go was incomplete, and the 49ers superior to the Tremendous Bowl with a 28-24 highway win. “I used to be complaining, but it surely was already over with,” White mentioned. “If you get to that time of the sport, as soon as they’ve let stuff like that go, it is a finished deal. I’ve seen some dangerous calls, however the stakes had been so excessive in that recreation.” — ESPN employees

Cotchery’s bobble, Feb. 7, 2016. The Panthers trailed Denver 3-Zero within the first quarter of Tremendous Bowl L when league MVP Cam Newton hit Jerricho Cotchery over the center on first-and-10 from the Carolina 15-yard line. Cotchery bobbled the ball, but it surely by no means hit the bottom. The play was reviewed and the officers mentioned the ruling on the sphere as an incomplete go stood although replays clearly confirmed the ball by no means touched the bottom.

Two performs later, Denver’s Von Miller bought a strip sack for a landing to make it 10-Zero and propel the Broncos to a 24-10 victory. Gamers and coaches to today imagine that saved the Panthers from having a official shot at profitable the Tremendous Bowl after going 15-1 through the common season. — David Newton

The play that modified go interference, Jan. 20, 2019. No shock right here. It may be probably the most well-known officiating gaffe in NFL historical past, and it led to a radical one-year rule change within the offseason, permitting go interference to be reviewed by replay for the 2019 season. The Saints and Rams had been tied with 1:49 remaining within the NFC Championship Sport when the officers missed a blatant PI name in opposition to Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman (who admitted that he deliberately “whacked” receiver Tommylee Lewis to maintain him from scoring). A penalty would have allowed the Saints to expire a lot of the clock and put them in higher place for a TD. As a substitute, they settled for a area objective and the Rams got here again to win in additional time. — Mike Triplett

Emanuel catch reversal, Jan. 23, 2000. The Bucs had been trailing the St. Louis Rams 11-6 within the NFC Championship Sport with 51 seconds to go. On second-and-23, Bert Emanuel made a 12-yard reception on the Rams’ 23-yard line, establishing a third-and-11. It wasn’t till coach Tony Dungy referred to as timeout that officers determined to evaluate the play. “We checked out one another and had been like, ‘What are you reviewing?'” Emanuel recalled. Referee Invoice Carollo and replay official Jerry Markbreit decided that the nostril of the ball touched the bottom as Emanuel fell, ruling it an incompletion.

Two failed go makes an attempt later, Tampa Bay’s season was over. The NFL modified the rule the next yr. “It has haunted me since that day,” Emanuel mentioned. “I’ve lived with that state of affairs of, ‘Possibly I value us an opportunity to go to the Tremendous Bowl’ for years.” — Jenna Laine


Santonio’s toes, Feb. 1, 2009. The Cardinals had been 42 seconds from their first Tremendous Bowl trophy, up 23-20 with the Steelers on the Cardinals’ 6-yard line. That is when Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes on the proper sideline of the tip zone for as shut a landing catch as could be. The play was reviewed to find out if each of Holmes’ toes touched down, and replay upheld the rating.

The Steelers went on to win. However greater than a decade later, there are nonetheless questions on whether or not Holmes’ proper foot touched down or if his toes had been pressed in opposition to the underside of his left cleat. — Josh Weinfuss

An excessive amount of contact, Feb. 3, 2002. The Patriots successfully slowed the Best Present on Turf and defeated the Rams 20-17 in Tremendous Bowl XXXVI, thanks largely to how their defensive backs mugged receivers all through the sport and weren’t flagged for it. It is probably no coincidence that Rams coach Mike Martz was on the Competitors Committee that, in 2004, made unlawful contact a degree of emphasis. — Lindsey Thiry

A pair of deadly flags, Jan. 8, 1984. After a 21-point fourth-quarter rally within the NFC Championship Sport, the Niners gave the impression to be sure for the Tremendous Bowl when Washington quarterback Joe Theismann and the offense took over at their 22-yard line and started marching for the game-winning factors. However not with out the advantage of a few controversial flags.

On second-and-10 at San Francisco’s 45, Theismann threw deep for receiver Artwork Monk. The go sailed over the heads of Monk and cornerback Eric Wright, however Wright acquired a go interference penalty on the Niners’ 18. The Niners argued the go was uncatchable however to no avail. Quickly after, Ronnie Lott was flagged for holding on third down. Each controversial calls led to Washington’s 24-21 win and prevented San Francisco from reaching the Tremendous Bowl. — Nick Wagoner

“I kicked two calls within the fourth quarter,” Feb. 5, 2006. In Tremendous Bowl XL, there have been 4 calls in opposition to the Seahawks that ranged from questionable (Did Darrell Jackson’s push-off ultimately zone warrant offensive go interference? Did Ben Roethlisberger really cross the objective line?) to dangerous (Sean Locklear getting flagged for holding an offsides Clark Haggans) to baffling (Matt Hasselbeck getting flagged for a “low block” whereas making an attempt to make a sort out on an interception return).

The referee in that recreation, Invoice Leavy, volunteered a heartfelt mea culpa in 2010, saying: “I kicked two calls within the fourth quarter and I impacted the sport, and as an official, you by no means need to try this.” He did not specify the performs, however the penalties on Locklear (which negated a completion to the Steelers’ 1-yard line) and Hasselbeck (which put Pittsburgh 15 yards nearer to what can be the clinching landing) had been each within the last body. — Brady Henderson

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