The CFL admits it blew a call that went against the Ottawa Redblacks with three minutes left in a 21-16 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos Sept. 28 at TD Place.
Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s senior director of officiating, said Wednesday a 17-yard touchdown catch by Eskimos receiver Tevaun Smith near the back of the end zone should have been ruled an incompletion on the field or when it then went to the CFL Command Centre for a review. The game was tied 14-14 before the touchdown. After each game, the CFL issues its Clear and Obvious Report to each of the teams, with the Command Centre decisions and the league’s grading on those decisions. The league wants to be transparent with the teams and seeks feedback.
“When that report (from the Eskimos-Redblacks game) went out to the clubs, it shows we graded that call incorrect,” said Hackwood. “We should have ruled it an incomplete pass on the field, but we also should have overturned it from the Command Centre. (The on-field officials) are supposed to err on the side of a catch. So if they’re in doubt, they’ll rule catch. It is a close play, it’s quick and it’s a tough call. But that ball is not secured on the ground. We use the phrase that the receiver used the ground to gain complete control. So we view it as an incomplete pass.
“Because we tell (the officials) to err on the side of the catch, that’s how it ends up being a catch on the field. The covering official didn’t see it loose on the ground. Then we go to the booth, it’s got to be clear and obvious to overturn. The replay official on that play didn’t think there was enough evidence to say, ‘That’s clearly an incomplete pass.’ After further review in the league office and having the time to go through all the angles, we’ve landed on we should have called it incomplete on the field and we should have overturned it in the booth. At the end of the day, they just made a mistake in judgment on this one.”
There are plenty of what ifs — the Redblacks at the time had at least a mathematical chance of beating the Eskimos out for the third playoff spot in the East Division. Of course, with the struggles the Redblacks have had this season — they have a 3-12 record — there’s no sense getting caught up in the botched touchdown call.
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