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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bucs robbed of potential win by premature whistle on fumble recovery

NFL officials are trained to not blow a whistle unless they are certain a play is dead, but unfortunately that training proved ineffective toward the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Tennessee Titans game on Sunday.

The Bucs were trailing 27-23 late in the fourth quarter when Tennessee decided to run a fake field goal play. Holder Brett Kern tried to run the ball for a first down, and he fumbled after being hit by Tampa linebacker Devin White. However, one official did not see that the ball was on the ground and blew his whistle. That prevented the Bucs from being able to scoop up the fumble and score an easy touchdown to take the lead.

Tampa retained possession as it was a fumble with a clear recovery, but they had to take over at their own 28-yard line. They ended up turning it over on downs, and the Titans went on to win.

With all turnovers being reviewed now in the NFL, officials are supposed to refrain from blowing the whistle in a situation like that. Although, in this case it seems likely that the official who blew the whistle didn’t even see the ball on the ground, which is really just unfortunate.

In a season where major officiating mistakes have been a topic of discussion more than ever, that will be another bad look for the league.

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