Duke Johnson fumble controversy helps cost Browns win (Video)
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson committed a costly turnover in the fourth quarter of his team’s loss to the Washington Redskins, but was it actually a turnover?
Johnson fumbled after picking up a first down on 2nd-and-2 from the 50-yard line. While it was tough to tell who jumped on the ball first under the pile, Johnson emerged rather quickly and raised the ball over his head. Why, then, was possession awarded to Washington?
Last week the bogus taunting penalty. This week the phantom fumble. Johnson never lost the ball. How does this happen?? pic.twitter.com/Uo8JZ39Wu0
— Jay Crawford (@jaycrawfordespn) October 2, 2016
“I thought I recovered it,” Johnson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “But at the end of the day, I can’t fumble.”
Turnovers are automatically reviewed, but an NFL spokesman said there was nothing definitive to overturn the ruling line judge Sarah Thomas made on the field. Here’s another angle:
The Browns turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions in the second half and blew a 20-17 lead. Because of that, they’re not blaming the loss on a questionable call.
“Long story short, I shouldn’t put the refs in position to make that call anyway,” Johnson added. “I should’ve had the ball. I should’ve held onto it and that would’ve been that. We wouldn’t have been sitting here now.”
Thomas said she whistled the play dead when she saw a Redskins defender on the ground with the ball. Even if Johnson was able to pry the ball away after a Washington recovery, it would still be Redskins ball. It’s unclear if that is what happened, but that’s what Thomas saw. There was no clear evidence to overturn her ruling.
The Browns have had some serious problems with running backs in recent seasons. Johnson, a third-round draft pick in his second NFL season, has been a disappointment thus far.