The people in the state of Ohio don’t agree on much, but they probably can agree on one thing after Week 2: Everyone there hates NFL officials.
Both the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals fell victim to questionable calls on Sunday that cost each team a chance at winning.
So did the refs blow it, or are Browns and Bengals fans just mad because everyone likes to blame the officials after a loss?
Let’s take a look at the two questionable plays.
In Pittsburgh, the questionable call came with just 1:50 left in the game and the Bengals trailing 24-16. On first-and-10 from the Steelers 39, Andy Dalton hit rookie Tyler Boyd with a short 6-yard pass and that’s when the chaos started.
Boyd fumbled on the play, but his knee appeared to be down, which means the fumble wouldn’t count and it would be the Bengals’ ball. Unfortunately for the Bengals, the refs ruled that he fumbled and then spent several minutes reviewing the play.
After the game, Boyd said that he was “definitely” down, the receiver also added that several officials on the Bengals sideline told him that he was down. There’s also a picture from the Cincinnati Enquirer that shows the ball out after the knee hit. (You can see a replay here).
So what did the refs end up ruling?
In the end, they ruled that Boyd wasn’t down and that the fumble would count. Even Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former VP of officiating thought Boyd was down on the play.
“If I had to bet my bottom dollar, I think he’s down,” Pereira said on Sunday.
However, Pereira also defended the officiating crew, saying that they really couldn’t overturn the call on the field.
“I will say one thing, the league has been consistent all day long on those plays where they don’t get the clear look, they’re staying with the ruling on the field,” Pereira said. “In this case, hard to piece together exactly what the ball was doing when the knee was on the ground. You don’t get the clear look. So they did what they had to do and they did what replay dictates they do. They left it as the call on the field because there was not clear and visual evidence that the call was wrong.”
Refs grade: D
Although it seemed to be a horrible call, Cincy fans probably shouldn’t blame this loss on the refs. The Bengals offense was horrible all day and there’s no guarantee that they would’ve scored on the drive, AND, even if they did score, they would’ve also needed a two-point conversion.
Now let’s talk about Cleveland.
During the fourth quarter of the Browns-Ravens game, Terrelle Pryor was flagged for what might go down as the most ridiculous penalty in NFL history.
After making a catch at the 10-yard line with just 21 seconds left, Pryor ran out of bounds to stop the clock because the Browns, who were trailing 25-20, didn’t have any timeouts left. After getting out of bounds, Pryor tossed the ball back to the ref. The only problem for Pryor is that Baltimore’s Lardarius Webb was in the way of the toss and the ball hit him, which led to a TAUNTING PENALTY.
The Ravens had actually been called for a penalty on the play, so Pryor’s penalty offset the Ravens penalty and the Browns had to replay the down. If Pryor hadn’t been flagged, the Browns would’ve been 10-yards away from a potential game-winning touchdown with first-and-goal from the 10. Instead, they had first-and-10 at the Ravens’ 30.
In the image below, you can see Pryor tossing the ball to the ref, the toss fell about 8-inches short and hit Webb, who you can barely see in the picture (his head is near Pryor’s waist).
The refs’ decision to throw a flag here cost the Browns any realistic shot at a win.
Refs grade: F
Unless the ref is 100 percent of Pryor’s intent here, it’s absolutely ridiculous to throw a flag in this situation. Life is already miserable enough for Browns’ fans, no need to pile on here, refs.
New York 16-13 over New Orleans
New Orleans Saints : C
The Saints finally got an impressive performance from their defense, but it didn’t really matter because their offense decided to waste it. The Saints only put up 288 total yards on Sunday, marking only the third time since the beginning of the 2013 season that they’ve been held under 290 yards. Oh, and the only thing uglier than the Saints offense was their special teams. A blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown by the Giants in the first quarter ended up being the difference in the game.
New York Giants : B+
It looks like we found out why the Giants were so horrible in close games last year: They didn’t have Victor Cruz . For the second week in a row, the Giants won a nail-biter and for the second week in a row, it was because of a clutch play by Cruz. Let’s go ahead and watch the catch, because it was ridiculous.
The Giants defense was also impressive, especially after turnovers. The Giants offense turned the ball over three times, but none of those ended up hurting because New York’s defense forced a punt after each turnover.
Houston 19-12 over Kansas City
Kansas City Chiefs : C-
The fact that the Chiefs kept this a one-score game is almost a minor miracle considering how bad they were in Houston. Here’s a short list of ugly things that happened to the Chiefs offense: They could’t protect Alex Smith (sacked four times), they couldn’t convert on third-down (three of 14) and they lost three fumbles.
Houston Texans : B
It’s a good thing the Texans defense came to play on Sunday because Brock Osweiler wasn’t going to win this game for Houston. This game could’ve been a blowout, but Osweiler threw two picks inside of Kansas City’s 40-yard line, including one that game on a third-and-goal from the 2. Neither pick hurt though because J.J. Watt and friends spent the entire game terrorizing Alex Smith.
Pittsburgh 24-16 over Cincinnati
People in Cincinnati will probably want to blame the officials for this loss because there were some questionable calls, but we’re not going to do that because it makes way more sense to blame Andy Dalton. The Bengals quarterback had one of the worst games of his career and was making errant throws for most of the game. Let’s also pin some blame on the Bengals coaching staff for breaking the rule of Dalton: Never let Andy Dalton throw more than 41 times in a game. During Dalton’s career, the Bengals are 2-10-1 (including Sunday’s game) when Dalton throws the ball 42 or more times. Also, throwing the ball 54 times in a torrential downpour isn’t generally a good idea, no matter who your quarterback is.
Pittsburgh Steelers : B
Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t on his game against the Bengals, but it didn’t matter because the Steelers defense was. In one of the impressive defensive performances of the day, the Steelers held the Bengals running game to just 46 yards. That’s impressive because the Bengals rushing attack isn’t easy to shut down. Since 2010, Cincy has only been held to 46 or fewer yards in a game four times, and three of those have come in Pittsburgh (including Sunday’s win).
Dallas 27-23 over Washington
Dallas Cowboys : A
If you go on the road with a rookie quarterback and beat a divisional opponent, you get an A, that’s one of the rules here with the grades. Speaking of rules, Dak Prescott finally figured out one of the rules of the Cowboys offense: Throw to Dez Bryant as often as possible. After only catching one pass for 8 yards in the Cowboys’ opener, the Bryant-Prescott connection went for seven catches and 102 yards against Washington.
Washington Redskins : D
Kirk Cousins is probably really going to start regretting not signing a long-term deal this past offseason. You never want to blame a loss on one person, but I’m sure everyone in Washington will want pin 95 percent of the loss on Cousins, which is almost fair because he threw an ugly interception in the fourth quarter. With the Redskin up 23-20, Cousins threw a pick on third-and-goal from the 6. If Washington had come away with any points on that drive, this game might’ve ended differently.
New England 31-24 over Miami
Miami Dolphins : C
If you turn the ball over four times against the Patriots, you’re going to lose. It’s literally a fact. Since 2000 when Bill Belichick was hired as the Patriots coach, New England is 34-0 in any game where they force four or more turnovers. The Dolphins turned the ball over four times on Sunday.
New England Patriots : B+
If we only graded the part of the game where Jimmy Garoppolo played, then the Patriots get an A+. Garoppolo was unstoppable in the first half, going 18 of 27 for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Patriots, he didn’t get to add on to those numbers in the second half because he suffered a shoulder injury. Patriots fans will be holding their breath over the next 24 hours hoping that the injury is nothing serious. They’ll probably also be repeating the phrase “Two weeks until Tom’s back. Two weeks until Tom’s back” nonstop.
Tennessee 16-15 over Detroit
Tennessee Titans : B+
The exotic smashmouth offense seems to be working for the Titans. Detroit had no answer for the Tennessee’s bruising running game. DeMarco Murray , Derrick Henry and Marcus Mariota combined for averaged a combined 6 yards per carry against the Lions (23 carries, 138 yards). The exotic part of the offense also worked with Mariota throwing the game-winning touchdown on fourth-down with under 90 seconds left.
Detroit Lions : C
The Lions are probably going to want to try and cut down on the penalties going forward. Detroit was flagged 17 times on Sunday, marking only the fifth time since 2007 that an NFL team has been penalized 17 or more times in a game. The three most damaging penalties came just before halftime when a first-and-goal at Tennessee’s one turned into first-and-goal at the 26-yard line after three straight penalties. Instead of a TD, the Lions only came away with a field goal on the drive.
Baltimore 25-20 over Cleveland
Baltimore Ravens : B
The Ravens signing of Mike Wallace might go down as one of the most underrated signings of the offseason. For the second straight week, Wallace provided the only offensive touchdowns that the Ravens scored. Wallace’s two scores marks the first time since December 2014 that he’s scored multiple receiving touchdowns in a game. We should also probably mention Justin Tucker , who had a ridiculously good game against Cleveland, hitting field goals from 52-, 49- and 41-yards.
Cleveland Browns : B-
Just when you think the Browns can’t find a new way to lose, they find a new way to lose. Not only did Cleveland blow a 20-0 lead in this game, but a huge reason they lost is because of a special teams gaffe in the first quarter. After a Josh McCown touchdown pass to Corey Coleman in the first quarter, the extra point was blocked and the Ravens returned it for two. The good news for the Browns is that their offense looks a lot better with Josh McCown running it. No offense, RG3.
Carolina 46-27 over San Francisco
Considering that the 49ers had to fly across the country on short rest to play a team that was coming off of a 10-day rest, this game wasn’t as ugly as it probably could’ve been. Is a 19-point loss ugly? Yes, but trust me, this could’ve been uglier. The Panthers led this game 31-10 at one point before the 49ers trimmed the lead to 34-27.
Carolina Panthers : A-
It looks like Cam Newton has officially started his campaign to repeat as NFL MVP. The Panthers quarterback threw for four touchdowns and was a big reason why Carolina’s offense was able to put up 529 total yards against the 49ers. If that sounds like a ridiculously high number, that’s because it is. The Panthers’ yardage total marked only the third time in franchise history that they’ve hit the 500-yard mark. All three have come since Newton has been their quarterback.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / NFL Week 2 Grades: Refs get an F for questionable call in Browns game