Justin Tucker’s Record-Breaking Field Goal Came After NFL Refs Blew a Call

It was a hell of a kick by a hell of a kicker, but Tucker's kick never should have happened

Justin Tucker's Record-Breaking Field Goal Came After NFL Refs Blew a Call
Baltimore Ravens place kicker Justin Tucker prepares to kick a field goal.
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty

It was a hell of a kick by a hell of a kicker, but it appears Justin Tucker’s record-breaking field goal should never have happened.

Prior to Tucker booting a 66-yard field goal to propel the Ravens over the Detroit Lions 19-17 as the game clock expired on Sunday afternoon, NFL officials appeared to miss a blatant penalty that should have been called on Baltimore.

Following Baltimore receiver Sammy Watkins making a 36-yard catch on fourth-and-19 to set up the Ravens at the Lions’ 48-yard-line, Lamar Jackson spiked the ball to stop the clock. Then Jackson took one more snap with seven seconds left to try and pick up a few more yards to get Tucker closer. However, as was clearly evident, Jackson, who ended up launching the ball out of bounds, let the play clock expire before getting the play off and Baltimore should have been backed up five additional yards due to a delay of game penalty. Could Tucker have made the kick from 71 yards? It’s certainly possible — and if the officials were doing their jobs correctly we would have found out.

Discussing the play back in the CBS studio, former NFL referee Gene Steratore said the back judge has the responsibility of watching the play clock to see if the ball is snapped in time and that it appeared a mistake was made.

“The back judge will be looking at the play clock, and then taking his eyes from the play clock down to the ball. When he sees zero on the play clock, he will move his head directly to the football. That snap needs to occur right at that time,” Steratore said.  “So is there an extra second built in there, just because of the human element? Yeah. It does feel like that’s a little longer than your normal progression from a zero on the clock back down.”

A little longer indeed. According to MLive.com, Baltimore got approximately 1.77 seconds of extra time to snap the football after the play clock on the CBS broadcast had expired.

Afterward, Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the no-call with a convoluted explanation.

“That’s not going to be a delay of game because of the way they operate,” he said. “It happens all the time when we’re on defense. There’s a mechanic that the officials go through. They look to see if the ball is up, then they go to the clock. So, it’s not like they’re looking at the clock and they can’t see both things at once. They’ve got a way that they do that, and the mechanic would not have made that a delay of game.”

Detroit coach Dan Campbell was a bit more direct. “Tomorrow you’ll get an apology and it doesn’t matter,” he said.

They always do, and it never does when it comes to the Lions.

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