As if the Browns needed anything to compound the empty confusion that follows a tie, the NFL just poured salt in the wound.
Over the span of the Cleveland Browns‘ run of mediocrity in the last three decades, it’s sort of become natural to expect bad things to happen to the team. From the failed Johnny Manziel experiment to the winless 2017 season to the infamous never-ending quarterback search, nothing surprises us anymore.
So when the Browns came back from a 21-7 fourth quarter deficit to force overtime Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, did we really expect something normal to happen?
Cleveland couldn’t capitalize on a Steelers missed potential game-winning field goal or a strip sack in Pittsburgh territory, and went on to settle for a 21-21 tie. So for once, they didn’t lose, but they didn’t win either. But should they have?
The NFL’s senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron told NFL.com Monday that the officiating crew incorrectly called a penalty on Browns defensive end Myles Garrett in the second quarter.
Garrett hit Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a third-down pass attempt that fell incomplete, but the officiating crew ruled that Garrett roughed the passer on the play. On the next play, Steelers running back James Conner rushed for a touchdown and a Pittsburgh lead.
Specifically, it was thought that Garrett violated the new provision to the rule that disallows defenders to land on the quarterback with most or all of their body weight. According to an ESPN report, Riveron said that “even though there is some body weight on Ben, this is not what we would consider contact that rises to the level of a foul.”
If the personal foul hadn’t been called, the Steelers would have faced a fourth down and likely would have attempted a field goal. In that case, would Josh Gordon’s late touchdown have put the Browns ahead instead of just tying the game at 21?
It’s certainly not a sure thing, as it could have sent the game on a completely different course. But you can’t help but wonder if we’d be looking at the Browns’ first win in forever if the Steelers got just three points instead of seven on that drive.
But as NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote in his weekly column: Browns gonna Brown.