Uncalled holding fouls fuel another primetime comeback
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.