The New England Patriots beat the Houston Texans by a touchdown on Sunday, but it could have easily swung the other way if a few key moments happened differently.
The most crucial moment happened right before halftime, as the Patriots were driving down the field with a 14-6 lead and just over a minute on the clock. On a 1st & 10 from their own 41-yard line, Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 28-yard completion. At least, that’s what the officials said, despite immediate and obvious protest from Texans defensive players.
Check out these two clips:
Brady fits this ball to Gronkowski into double coverage and he makes the great catchpic.twitter.com/ATOYK13DKq
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 9, 2018
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) September 9, 2018
Was it really a catch? Who the hell even knows anymore? But you’d think a play that looks as murky as this one would be reviewed, right? With the play clock under two minutes, all replay reviews must be initiated by the booth. Except they didn’t bother, and the Patriots rushed to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball, probably fully aware that the “catch” was questionable. Once the next play starts, there can be no review.
The Patriots would score a few plays later, giving them a 21-6 halftime lead.
After the game, reporters asked Texans coach Bill O’Brien why he didn’t call a timeout in the situation, to give the officials a longer chance to initiate a potential review.
“It’s not my job.”
— patrick (@PatDStat) September 9, 2018
“It’s not my job to do that,” O’Brien said. “It’s not my job to call a timeout to make their [the officials’] job easier.”
The officials even admitted that the replay office in New York was slow in signalling them, so they had no choice but to allow play to continue.
“The situation was that New York did get back to us,” referee Tony Corrente told a pool reporter. “However, unfortunately, they didn’t get to the game officials on the field until after the play had already started…You can’t challenge after the snap.”
Someone should perhaps tell O’Brien that it definitely is his job to call timeouts (which the Texans had all three remaining), and other NFL head coaches call timeouts in similar situations all the time. Yes, he couldn’t throw the red challenge flag because the two-minute warning had already passed, but he still could have used every option at his disposal to keep the Patriots from scoring — which he didn’t bother to do.