NFL: ‘Panthers incorrectly awarded TD’

An NFL spokesman has confirmed in a statement to Football Zebras.com that the inadvertent whistle that occurred during the Panthers-Redskins game was ruled incorrectly.

As we reported yesterday, line judge Tom Symonette ruled Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams out of bounds on a touchdown run when he did not step out of bounds. Referee Carl Cheffers gathered Symonette and the rest of his crew to determine the location of the ball at the time of the whistle. The decision from the crew was that Williams made it to the end zone. However, a league spokesman said “the Panthers were incorrectly awarded a touchdown following [the] inadvertent whistle.”

“By rule, Carolina should have been given a choice of putting the ball in play where Williams was ruled to have stepped out of bounds – 1st-and-10 from the Washington 17 yard-line – or replaying the down – 1st-and-10 from the Washington 30,” according to the statement.

The replay official could not overturn the inadvertent whistle, either. “Because all scoring plays are automatically reviewed, the play was confirmed as a touchdown by instant replay official Charles Stewart.  By rule, Stewart was not able to intercede with regard to the inadvertent whistle.  He confirmed that the runner, Williams, was never out of bounds.”

As we pointed out, it is a regrettable error to have an inadvertent whistle in the first place. But, at least one member of the crew was aware of the position of the ball at the time of the whistle, and that it was clearly not in the end zone. The fact that they attempted to make good on the error by incorrectly ruling the touchdown only magnifies the error.

Statement from the NFL to Football Zebras.com

In Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins, the Panthers were incorrectly awarded a touchdown following an inadvertent whistle.

With 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Carolina faced a 1st-and-10 from the Washington 30.  As Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams took a handoff and ran down the right sideline for what would become a 30-yard touchdown run, line judge Thomas Symonette blew his whistle and signaled to stop the clock, indicating that he ruled Williams stepped out of bounds.

The officiating crew, led by referee Carl Cheffers, conferenced on the field and ruled the play a touchdown.

Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 (n) (i) of the NFL Rule Book (page 32) states:

(n) when an official sounds his whistle erroneously while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes dead immediately;

(i) If the ball is in player possession, the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where it has been declared dead or to replay the down.

By rule, Carolina should have been given a choice of putting the ball in play where Williams was ruled to have stepped out of bounds – 1st-and-10 from the Washington 17 yard-line – or replaying the down – 1st-and-10 from the Washington 30.

Because all scoring plays are automatically reviewed, the play was confirmed as a touchdown by instant replay official Charles Stewart.  By rule, Stewart was not able to intercede with regard to the inadvertent whistle.  He confirmed that the runner, Williams, was never out of bounds.

Rule 15, Section 9 of the NFL Rule Book (page 90) states:

Note: Non-reviewable plays include but are not limited to:

1. Status of the clock

2. Proper down

3. Penalty administration

4. Runner ruled down by defensive contact (not involving fumbles)

5. Forward progress not relating to first down or goal line

6. Recovery of a loose ball that does not involve a boundary line or the end zone.

7. Field-goal or Try attempts that cross above either upright without touching anything.

8. Inadvertent Whistle

 

Ben Austro

About Ben Austro

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of FootballZebras.com

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