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NFL refs botch another late-game call during 'Monday Night Football'

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NFL games this season -- especially on Monday Night Football -- have been filled with controversial calls that have had major impact on the outcomes. From a major clock mistake in Pittsburgh Steelers-San Diego Chargers to an incorrect ruling in Detroit Lions-Seattle Seahawks, NFL refs have not shined in the final minutes. The Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers met on Monday Night Football in Week 8, and again there was a late-game controversy.

The Colts took over possession trailing 23-20 with 2:02 to play in the game. They kicked a game-tying field goal to force overtime and it was partially aided by a pair of controversial calls that went the Colts' way.

The first controversial call occurred on the fourth play of the drive. After unsuccessfully throwing deep on the first three plays, Andrew Luck connected with Griff Whalen on a 12-yard pass to keep the game alive. Whalen, however, had to make the catch while sliding to the ground, and it was unclear whether he legally completed the catch.

The play was ruled a catch on the field and the call stood after a review. One of Whalen's hands moved and the ball was close to hitting the ground, suggesting it was not fully secured. With so much subjectivity in the rule book over what is and is not a catch in the NFL, this certainly could have gone either way.

While the catch was a subjective call, the second controversial play on the drive was not. Luck again connected with Whalen, this time for a 7-yard gain with 41 seconds to play. Inexplicably, Whalen tried to slide down in bounds instead of going out of bounds to stop the clock.

Whalen was unquestionably tackled in bounds and with the Colts having no timeouts, the clock should have kept running. Yet, officials ruled Whalen was out of bounds. The ruling was pivotal because after the play, Indianapolis faced a third-and-3. Had the clock been running, the Colts would have had to hustle to the line and, even if they converted, would have had considerably less time to complete the drive.

Instead, the clock was stopped and Indianapolis converted the third down. That allowed the Colts multiple attempts at a game-winning touchdown. The last shot came with just nine seconds left on the clock, time they would not have had if the clock hadn't been erroneously stopped. The Colts didn't score a game-winning touchdown on the play, but if they had it would have been with a major assist to the refs for the extra time.

The Panthers bailed the refs out by winning in overtime, but botched calls remain an issue for the league.


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