Did referees disagree over controversial intentional grounding call?
It appears the referees could not come to an agreement on a controversial call late in Sunday’s NFC wild-card game.
With less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter of the game between the Saints and Panthers, Cam Newton dropped back to pass on 2nd and 10. Unable to find a receiver, Newton threw the ball away. However, he was ruled to still be in the pocket and intentional grounding was called. Below is video of the play.
INTENTIONAL GROUNDING. HUGE SAINTS PRESSURE. pic.twitter.com/Ttxi8MiA2s
— Tailgate Sports (@_TailgateSports) January 8, 2018
After the game, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said he heard assistant officials trying to convey to the head referee that it was not grounding. Unfortunately for Carolina, the call stood.
Greg Olsen said he heard assistant officials trying to tell the head ref that it wasn’t intentional grounding. Obviously they didn’t convince him.
— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) January 8, 2018
Not only did the penalty result in a loss of down, but also a 10-second runoff and a loss of 13 yards. Needless to say, at that juncture of the game with Carolina trailing by five points, the call was crushing for the Panthers. What could have been 3rd and 10 on the Saints’ 21 yard line turned into 3rd and 23 from the 34 yard line.
Ron Rivera was visibly upset at the call, understandably so. For him and the rest of the team it will be an offseason of wondering what could have been.