- Tampa Bay tackle Donald Penn couldn't have been any more obvious in his hold on Brian Orakpo, yet the officials said they didn't see it. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
The Washington Redskins had their share of costly miscues in their 17-16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a blatant error on the part of the referees impacted what ended up being the deciding touchdown.
On second-and-10 from the Washington 41, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman dropped back and looked downfield to throw. He connected with tight end Kellen Winslow on what ended up being a 41-yard touchdown strike that gave the Bucs a 17-10 lead. But, he should’ve never gotten the throw off.
Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo blitzed from Freeman’s blind side and was hog-tied, horse-collared -- whatever you want to call it -- by left tackle Donald Penn.
As Mike Shanahan put it, “He wasn’t held, he was mugged.”
The play happened in what should have been the line of side of umpire Ruben Fowler, but he didn’t throw the flag, and the play stood.
Had he not been held, Orakpo would’ve plastered Freeman. Had the official thrown the flag, the play would’ve come back, and who knows how the game would’ve played out.
The Redskins had a photo sent down from the box and showed it to the officials, but they said they hadn’t seen the infraction.
“He said he was looking downfield. He wasn’t looking at the line and where the play was,” Orakpo yelled in the locker room. “It was clear as day! I’ll get the image tomorrow. I’ll post it on anything, but it was ridiculous.”
Orakpo had been held throughout the game, but said he hadn’t said anything to the referees. The last time he was held that bad, was at the end of Washington’s last-second 13-7 win over Dallas. Alex Barron had committed a similar hold right in front of the official, and that penalty wiped out what would’ve been a game-winning touchdown pass by Tony Romo.
Orakpo couldn’t believe it when he didn’t receive the call on Sunday.
“Yeah I was shocked! I was stunned!” he said. “That one was blatant. Almost just like the Dallas one.”
Orakpo said he might have to start going to referees before games to give them a heads-up on the missed holding calls.
“Maybe I’m going to have to,” he said. “I try not to resort to that because I just want to play the game. But maybe I need to talk to those guys before the game and point out to them I’ve been getting holding calls every week. I can’t name a game that I haven’t. That was a play that could’ve turned the game around if I make the play, and to have somebody around my neck, it’s not fair. It’s not fair to out team, or to our defense that’s been working hard all game.”
How has this repeatedly happened this season? Phillip Daniels believes moving the umpire to the offensive backfield -- a change that was set in place this season -- is to blame.
“I’ve been noticing a lot this year, when they took that umpire and moved him behind the line of scrimmage, they tend to watch the quarterback more than anything,” Daniels said. “And they don’t watch the guys up front that are holding. That’s happening a lot. So, they’ll go back this offseason, hopefully review the calls that they missed and address that, because there are several obvious calls that they miss.”