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NFL admits it may have cost Chargers a win over Texans with bad call

Cam Thomas penalty

The San Diego Chargers lost to the Houston Texans on Monday night in typical Chargers fashion, blowing a 21-point lead in the second half. While the play of Philip Rivers and company down the stretch was inexcusable, a bad call from the officials may have cost San Diego the win.

On Tuesday, NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino admitted that a referee incorrectly called Chargers defensive tackle Cam Thomas for an illegal hit on Texans longsnapper Jon Weeks in the third quarter. The penalty erased Houston’s field goal and instead resulted in a first down. Matt Schaub hooked up with Owen Daniels for a 9-yard touchdown on the very next play to cut San Diego’s lead to 28-21.

“No, this was not a correct call. This is not the intent of the rule as it was written,” Blandino explained on NFL Network’s NFL Total Access. “The rule is to protect the snapper on a field goal or extra point from a direct forcible blow to the head or neck area, or with the crown/forehead/hairline parts of the helmet to the body. It was not designed to prohibit any contact with the snapper, which is what happened on this play.”

The mistake essentially handed the Texans four points in a game they won 31-28. Blandino went on to say that the play can only be called using the umpire’s judgment.

“It’s a judgment call by the umpire, he’s looking at that, and in his judgment, he felt that it was enough for a foul,” he said. “And in our review today, we felt that it was not.”

Did we flash back to 2012 for the NFL’s opening weekend this year? In addition to the incorrect call from the Texans-Chargers game, the NFL also admitted that it should not have allowed the San Francisco 49ers to replay third down after a brawl broke out because of Clay Matthews’ late hit on Colin Kaepernick. That’s two blown calls that may have affected the outcome of games. And these were not replacement refs. Tisk, tisk.

Houston Texans call game against New England Patriots ‘Homecoming’

Texans-letterman-jacketThe Houston Texans announced on Tuesday that they have come up with a theme for each of their eight home games during the 2013 season. On the surface, the promotion sounds pretty standard with charitable themes like “Pink Ribbon Day” and “Salute to Service” day. However, Houston’s theme for its game against the New England Patriots is all people are talking about.

As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport pointed out, the Texans have decided to make Dec. 1 against New England their “Homecoming” game. Why is that a big deal? Last year, the Texans debuted these letterman jackets and went with a high school theme before getting demolished by the Patriots on Monday Night Football. They lost 42-14 and were defeated by the Pats again in the playoffs a few weeks later.

Is this the team’s way of plotting revenge? Clearly the Texans are not superstitious.

Granted, the Patriots have lost several key players this offseason (thanks in part to the Aaron Hernandez murder trial) and are looking shaky heading into 2013. Still, it sounds like someone in the team’s PR department should have thought it through a little more thoroughly. If New England destroys Houston once again, fans are sure to blame the theme.

Connor Barwin thanks everyone in Houston from the delivery guy to the fans

Connor-Barwin-thanks-Houston

Connor Barwin signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason after spending the first three seasons of his career with the Houston Texans. He was one of the more versatile linebackers in the game with Houston, particularly in 2011 when he racked up 11.5 sacks. As many players do, Barwin wanted to think his former organization and their fans on his way out the door.

However, the former second-round pick did things a bit differently than most. We have seen full-page ads thanking the fans and even heartfelt hand-written letters. But to my knowledge, no athlete has ever taken the time to thank the delivery guy, his cleaning lady, the popcorn guy and cheesecake. Those were just a few of the bases Barwin covered in his thank you letter to the Houston area.

We knew he was a generous guy after this offer to Jeremy Lin last year, but Barwin truly went above and beyond with his farewell message. Very unique and nicely done.

Photo via Twitter/Jayme Lamm

H/T SI Hot Clicks

Pitbull concert may have delayed Ed Reed signing with the Texans

Ed-Reed-Super-BowlRapper-Pitbull

The Houston Texans have made it no secret that they desperately want to bring veteran All-Pro safety Ed Reed on board. On Thursday, everyone from the Texans official Twitter account to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was gushing over the team’s decision to fly a private jet to pick Reed up and bring him to Houston for a meeting. It’s starting to look like Reed could sign with the Texans, but did rapper Pitbull delay the team’s plans?

According to Around the League, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle told “NFL AM” on Friday morning that the Texans had to cut their meeting with Reed short on Thursday so they could get out of Reliant Stadium before more than 70,000 fans piled in for the Pitbull concert. Despite the inconvenience, McClain said he still expects Reed to sign with the team.

“I don’t think they would have done that if they didn’t think they had a good chance to keep him, they don’t want to send him home on Southwest,” McClain said.

On Friday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter cited a source who said it is only a “50-50 at best” chance that Reed signs with the Texans. There’s still a possibility he could return to Baltimore or explore other options. As of Friday afternoon, Reed had reportedly left the building in Houston without a deal.

The Texans and their fans would desperately like to have a veteran, ball-hawking presence like Reed to anchor their defense. If they’re unable to pull it off, blame Pitbull. Who knows what else could have been accomplished if his concert didn’t interrupt.

Ed Reed to visit Houston Texans

Ed ReedEd Reed could be the latest Baltimore Ravens player to become a former Baltimore Ravens player.

According to Houston Chronicle writer John McClain, Reed will be at the Houston Texans’ facility on Thursday as their first unrestricted free agent visitor. The Texans need a replacement at safety for Glover Quin, who signed with the Detroit Lions.

Reed is a free agent after spending his entire career with the Baltimore Ravens, and there does not seem to be a consensus about what he will do. The San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts have been mentioned as other spots where he could visit.

If Reed, 34, decides to leave the Ravens, now might be the right time. He just won his first Super Bowl, and the exodus from the team has begun. LB Ray Lewis is retiring; LB Paul Kruger is signing with the Browns; LB Dannell Ellerbe is signing with the Dolphins; S Bernard Pollard was released; and WR Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. The other side of the exodus is that the Ravens should have money available to make Reed a strong offer.

Antonio Smith: Manti Te’o ‘would be the butt of every joke’ in Texans locker room

Manti Te'o combineIf Manti Te’o intends to enjoy a successful NFL career, he is going to have to carry with him some pretty thick skin. No matter what the former Notre Dame linebacker says or does, he is never going to escape the embarrassment of the fake girlfriend hoax he supposedly fell victim to.

Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith reminded us of that this week. According to Smith, Te’o had better be prepared for some serious heckling in the event that he gets drafted by the Texans.

“Our locker room is full of clowns and, oh, man people would kill him,” Smith told NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk. “I mean he would be the butt of every joke for at least two, three years.”

By that time, Te’o should be more than used to being ragged on. If Te’o’s NFL teammates keep quiet about the hoax, there is always going to be an elephant in the room. Once he begins his professional career, the best thing Te’o can do is just accept the verbal beating and laugh it off.

“You just got to be a good sport, man, it is what it is and you know it is out now, it’s out in the papers and on TV, so all you can do now, you can’t worry about it, you can’t change it, all you can do now is laugh — laugh with us while we’re laughing at you,” Smith said.

Terrell Suggs recently said the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens would welcome Te’o into their locker room, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t give him a hard time. Te’o has already heard it from airline companies and hotel chains, so what’s a little more ribbing? Lord knows he already has enough to worry about with that disappointing display he put on in the 40-yard dash.

Johnathan Joseph: Texans are a better team than the Patriots (UPDATED)

The Houston Texans had a chance at redemption against the New England Patriots last weekend and failed to cash in. Just four weeks removed from an embarrassing 42-14 loss at Gillette Stadium, the Texans were once again dominated in every facet of the game. Anyone who watched both games was left with one simple conclusion — the Patriots are a better team.

Johnathan Joseph does not agree. Despite the two beatings, the Houston corner feels that the Texans are still a better team than New England.

“Obviously we had the right guys in here to win 13 ballgames to get up to that point,” Joseph told CSNHouston.com on Monday. “For whatever reason, we didn’t advance. I still can’t put that over because I think we were a better team. I think we just didn’t make the plays at the right time.”

I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. The 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars were a play or two away from beating the Patriots in Week 16. Does that mean they are a better team? New England outscored Houston 83-42 in their two match-ups, and a couple of late touchdowns made the playoff meeting seem closer than it actually was. However, Joseph doesn’t think the numbers mean much.

“Not at all,” he said when asked if New England is a significantly better team. “Just four or five plays. You take a few of those plays that they made and go the other way, it’s a different ballgame.”

Whatever helps you sleep at night. The not-so-athletic Wes Welker (according to Wade Phillips) caught eight passes for 133 yards. Tom Brady threw for 344 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against a typically solid Houston secondary. I can understand Joseph thinking the first beating was an outlier, but twice is not a coincidence. At the end of the day, the Texans handed the Patriots two of their easiest wins of the season. Considering some of the poor opponents New England faced this year, that certainly has to say something.

UPDATE: CSNHouston.com has since changed their headline after the Texans’ PR staff informed them that Joseph was simply speaking about the gap between Houston and New England, not saying the Texans are a better team.

Photo credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE