- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

An error with the game clock helped the Seattle Seahawks with an attempted last-ditch Hail Mary in Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Fox NFL rules analysts Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino, each a former NFL vice president of officiating, said there was an error — acknowledged by the league — leading to the final play.

With 19 seconds left at the 38-yard line, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back and was sacked by Redskins defensive lineman Terrell McClain. Wilson’s knee hit the ground, but he threw the ball instantly after. 

Initially, there was confusion on whether Wilson was down by contact or threw an incomplete pass — temporarily stopping the clock with 11 seconds. After he was officially ruled down, Wilson and the Seahawks went to spike the ball to stop the clock, but another stoppage was called, this time to review the play.

Neither of the stoppages should have happened, Pereira said.

“You had an error in the clock,” Pereira said. “You had 12 seconds when Russell Wilson went down on a knee. A whistle was blown, ending the play. The clock operator stopped the clock, so he stopped the clock with essentially 11 seconds to go. Seventeen seconds later, 17 seconds later on a clock that was not supposed to stop, they’re up to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball, and the buzz came from replay right as the ball was snapped. So they went to review it. That’s another story.

“My issue with this is that the clock should never have stopped. I think it’s reasonable to say that Seattle may not have gotten off another play without this clock erroneously stopping.”

Blandino said the clock operator thought Wilson threw an incomplete pass, despite being ruled down by referee Ron Torbert. But Blandino added that officials couldn’t overturn the call in the first place. Blandino said if Seattle knew the clock was running when Wilson was initially down, they might have had “a sense of urgency” and gotten the play off as the clock was running. 

“We both said as it was happening, ‘Why is replay stopping the game here?’” Blandino said. “They did confirm that he was down, but there was nothing they could have done. They couldn’t make it an incomplete pass, because once the player’s ruled down, the only thing you can do is make it a fumble. So it was really an unnecessary stop.”

Pereira said “obviously a mistake was made” and asked who would have been held accountable. Wilson’s last pass was incomplete, knocked out of the end zone by safety DeAngelo Hall.

“To me, the league is pretty damn lucky that that pass was incomplete in the end zone and not a touchdown by Seattle, because then there would have been a ton of discussion,” Pereira said.

The NFL, in an email Tuesday to The Washington Times, acknowledged the clock should not have been stopped.


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