The Detroit Lions lost to the Baltimore Ravens on a Justin Tucker record-setting 66-yard field goal. But if the referees had seen an obvious delay of game penalty by Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson on the play prior, Tucker may not have even got the chance to attempt the game-winner.
Let’s set the table. After intercepting Jackson with roughly five and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter the Lions methodically drove the length of the field and put themselves in field goal range by the two-minute warning.
The Ravens had two timeouts remaining and the Lions opted to force Baltimore to use them and went conservative by rushing the ball and draining time off the clock. With 1:04 remaining in the game, Lions kicker Ryan Santoso kicked a 35-yard field goal to put the Lions up by one, 17-16.
After sacking Jackson and forcing two more poor throws, the Ravens had a fourth-and-19 with 26 seconds remaining. Jackson completed a 36-yard pass to Sammy Watkins, who slipped behind Will Harris. After a quick spike, the Ravens were set up at mid-field with seven seconds left on the clock—too much for Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s liking.
So, the Ravens opted to run one more play and take four seconds off the clock, but the play clock ran out well before the play took place and the referees clearly missed it.
Here’s the play:
Doink inside this is one of the most egregious missed delay of games I've ever seen and should have given the Lions a win. pic.twitter.com/xUnZBmfrKH— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 26, 2021
That’s a solid two Mississippi's after the play clock expires.
On the next play, Tucker kicks a 66-yard field goal, bouncing it off the crossbar, and securing the win. If the penalty is called, do the Ravens even attempt a 71-yard field goal?
It’s easy to blame the referees here. It’s a blatant mistake. The broadcast announcers caught it, the CBS studio team went off on how egregious a missed call it was, but at the end of the day, it’s just another in a long history of bad breaks for the Lions.
There is nothing the Lions can do about it at this point, the game is over, and the NFL will point to missed calls happening all the time in the NFL.
“Tomorrow you’ll get an apology and it doesn’t matter,” coach Dan Campbell said at his post-game press conference. “That’s life and it’s the hand we were dealt.”
But Campbell would go on to make a point that shouldn't be overlooked.
“We had an opportunity—it was fourth and long, a long way to go, and we gave it up.”
So far this season, we have seen Campbell and his coordinators' approach games with an aggressive game plan, but with two minutes left in this game, they went the opposite direction and played conservative, essentially trying not to lose.
But they did lose, and yes the referees hold some blame in the situation, but we can’t let the Lions off the hook for putting themselves in this situation either.
Update, official Scott Novak provided this response to Detroit News Justin Rogers:
Got off the phone with official Scott Novak. He hadn't yet reviewed the play, but said he was unsure how the broadcast clock matched up with field clock, but was confident the back judge was in position to properly execute mechanics of monitoring the play clock on the snap.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) September 26, 2021