The Browns were leading the Raiders 35-34 late in the fourth quarter of their game in Oakland in Week 4. If not for an awful whistle from a sloppy officiating crew, that lead would have been even bigger. That wasn’t the only quibble Cleveland had with the officiating. A bad spot late in the fourth quarter took away a new set of downs that Cleveland could have used to run out the clock and hold their 42-34 lead for the win.
On third-and-2 with 1:41 left on the clock, Carlos Hyde pushed it up the middle. The original spot had the ball a few inches past the chain. But an official review thought otherwise. That spot got overturned, and made it fourth down.
Here’s a look at where the original spot was.
So the Browns got a first down on the BAD spot, then it was overturned after they took a close look at what should have been a better spot? Rigged. pic.twitter.com/jDJ4poK4Nr— Sports Nation Ohio (@SN_Ohio) October 1, 2018
Here’s the NFL’s explanation:
On the spotting of the ball after Hyde appeared to make the line to gain late in 4th qtr of Browns’ loss to Raiders, NFL explains: pic.twitter.com/kNiKUEVbWY— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) October 1, 2018
The Browns punted. On the ensuing drive, the Raiders gashed them with big plays, eventually scoring on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook. They got the two-point conversion too to tie the game.
After the game, NFL vice president for officiating explained that the decision to overturn the call was because of the angles they could see in the central command center in New York. They based their ruling on the fact that the ball was short of the line when Hyde’s elbow was down.
From there, it was back to heartbreak for the Browns. Still no winning record since 2014.
The fumble that wasn’t
Facing third-and-9 from near midfield, Derek Carr dropped back to pass and found his pocket immediately shrunk by Browns pass rushers Myles Garrett and Genard Avery. The two defenders crashed in upon him and jarred the ball loose, where it bounced directly into the hands of defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. Ogunjobi had just one man to beat and 35 yards to cover en route to the end zone, but he’d never get the chance to put together a Piesman-esque play — officials blew the play dead pretty much at the moment of contract in the pocket, erasing the turnover and saving the Raiders’ bacon, at least temporarily.
Since the play was the result of an early whistle, it was not reviewable. The Raiders punted away on fourth down netting at least 30 yards of field position in the exchange.
Though it’s of little comfort now, the NFL’s head of officiating later admitted the refs missed this call.
“Obviously, this is a fumble. We should not have blown the whistle,” Al Riveron said in a video. “But because we ruled forward progress on this play, this play is not reviewable.”
Fortunately for the Browns, the ball didn’t lie in Oakland. Three plays after the Raiders’ punt, Nick Chubb broke free for a 41-yard touchdown that got Cleveland the seven points it deserved.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only bad call they’d have to deal with.
And not to let the Browns off the hook completely. They fumbled it twice, threw a pair of picks and had three more three-and-out possessions.