Saturday, September 26, 2015
CFL Tells Bombers A Mistake Was Made
They blew it.
The CFL admitted Saturday afternoon its officials screwed up a penalty call against the Bombers late in their loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night at Investors Group Field.
The Bombers were flagged for illegal procedure because they had no end on a third-and-short play at Calgary's 37 yard line with 39 seconds remaining. That pushed the Bombers back five yards, which meant they had to try a 50-yard field goal that would have tied the game.
Lirim Hajrullahu missed the kick and had to settle for a single, and the Bombers lost 25-23 to fall to 4-9 and remain out of the playoff picture in the West Division.
On Saturday the CFL admitted the official who threw the flag, believed to be side judge Jocelyn Paul, got the call wrong, and vice-president of officiating Glen Johnson explained to the Sun where it all went wrong.
Winnipeg receiver Darvin Adams split out wide left on the play, which was a simple sneak by quarterback Matt Nichols, and Adams checked with the side judge to ensure he was on the line of scrimmage. The offence must have seven players on the line for each play, and the official told Adams he was good.
“He said it a little premature, because (Adams) wasn't ultimately there,” Johnson told The Sun from Edmonton on Saturday. “So he kind of told him incorrectly that he was and then got distracted by number 66 (Stanley Bryant) on the interior line to see whether he had actually reported to be eligible or not. So he got caught up in that ...
“As soon as the play was over he ran into the referee and just said 'Did 66 report?' The referee said, 'No.' So then he forgot he had told the wide receiver that he was on the line, and he said, 'Then I have a procedure penalty.' And then they applied the penalty.
“It just kind of caused him to kind of get him off his focus and ultimately we called a penalty that we shouldn't have called.”
Even though Adams ultimately backed up too far to be considered on the line of scrimmage, Johnson said that shouldn't have mattered.
“When we tell a guy he's on the line, he's on the line,” Johnson said. “Wherever he is, if we told him he is, he is. That's been a long standing protocol of ours.”
The official will be “disciplined in accordance with the gravity of the situation,” Johnson said in an earlier statement issued by the CFL.
The Bombers, of course, believe the call cost them the game, that they were marching with plenty of momentum and surely would have found their way into the end zone for the winning score. Anyone who has watched the floundering Blue and Gold offence this season, however, knows that is no guarantee.
Winnipeg likely would have at least tied the game and sent it to overtime with a field goal were it not for the incorrect call, as Hajrullahu is 15-for-16 from inside 40 yards this season.
The statement Bombers president Wade Miller issued on Saturday afternoon certainly insinuated the call cost them the game. Interestingly, Miller's brother, Ritchie, is a CFL official.
“We’re deeply disappointed in what happened (Friday) night regarding the officiating error, as acknowledged by the league today,” said Miller, who berated the officials as they left the field Friday night. “While we understand that mistakes happen, it is extremely frustrating for our organization, and our fans, that it occurred at such a crucial point in the game, and our season.”
There is still enough time for the Bombers to make the playoffs, and at least they were saying all the right things after Friday's contest in an effort to look forward.
“You cannot rely on the officials,” O'Shea said. “You have to win games in spite of that. You can't make an excuse like this. This type of outcome has been happening since officials were involved in any sport, from the beginning of history of sport with officials. It just happens. Human error.”
How the CFL goes about trying to ensure a wrong call at the worst possible time in a game doesn't happen again will continue to be debated, but there's nothing that can be done to change what happened on Friday night.
“Now we move forward with our internal discipline process, and (the official) will be disciplined appropriately for it,” Johnson said. “We move forward and get better.”