The Seattle Seahawks won a close one over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6, edging them out 26-24. The Seahawks took their final lead just under the two-minute warning. The Falcons got the ball back on their own 25, and threw four incomplete passes in their final opportunity to win. The Seahawks shut them down, although they got a little help on the final play.
As you can see, Richard Sherman’s right hand hooked Julio Jones’ right arm. Jones almost hauled in the pass with his left hand, but came up short. If he had both hands available, his chances of catching the ball increase. If the referees call the penalty, the Falcons are likely in field goal range.
There is a certain irony in this happening to the Falcons. Head coach Dan Quinn was the Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. I don’t think he was the one teaching the Seahawks defensive backs how to get away with overly physical play, but it’s still amusing.
All that being said, changes are needed in how the NFL handles this kind of mistake by the referees. One option is making pass interference calls reviewable. My belief is everything should be reviewable, but coaches retain the same number of challenges. A compromise on that would be that the only penalties one can review are 15+ yards. You could say such plays can be game-flipping like a turnover. I think there are compromises available to make something like this work.
SB Nation has a high school and college football official on staff, and he occasionally writes about notable officiating issues. He wrote about the Sherman-Jones missed call, and offered a good explanation for how the play was missed. He also suggested that one way to cover plays like this would be adding an eighth official. The NFL has experimented with such an official to help on defensive pass interference calls.
The NFL needs to make some kind of change. It is easy to complain about the Seahawks getting away with this stuff, but there is a bigger issues with bad officiating costing teams. I’d prefer more replay options, but I’m open to anything that will improve the quality.