For a brief moment before the game’s bizarre ending stole the headlines, the biggest topic of debate in the New England Patriots’ game against the Las Vegas Raiders was a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.
With only 32 seconds left on the clock and the Patriots up by seven, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr found wideout Keelan Cole for a 30-yard score to tie the game at 24. But while it was ruled a touchdown on the field, replay showed that Cole’s foot appeared to have touched the white boundary — meaning that it could be overturned on a scoring review.
That never happened, though. Following a long review process, referee Ron Torbert announced that the play would stand as called.
The decision not to overturn the play was a controversial one, so naturally Bill Belichick was asked his thoughts on it on Monday. Unsurprisingly, though, the Patriots head coach did not offer much insight.
“It doesn’t really matter what I think, or anybody else,” he told WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show. “The officials made their call and we all live with it.”
Belichick was not the only member of the Patriots to go down that road when asked about the play in question.
“It could have gone either way,” said safety Devin McCourty during his postgame press conference. “When we were talking to the official out there, he was just like, ‘It looked close.’ It wasn’t one of those plays were it looked like it was egregious. You could see that if you thought his toe was out, it could have been out. And you could see there was a chance that it was in.
“Just a tough play to come down at the end like that. He made a really good catch. Marcus [Jones], is in good position, made a good play. Just a better play offensively.”
Despite the Patriots quickly filing the play under “it is what it is” — from their perspective the bigger problem was Las Vegas driving a position to take such a shot to begin with — fans and analysts alike debated the play and the officiating crew’s decision ad nauseam since it was made.
Among the more noteworthy opinions shared was the one posted by Football Zebras:
If this game is not flexed to Sunday afternoon, this is overturned with a shot from the NBC pylon camera. I really think the evidence is clear and obvious, but we have seen calls like this stand before. pic.twitter.com/Ikp0dKVA6D— Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs (@footballzebras) December 19, 2022
As for the NFL, it deferred to the technology available as the basis of not overturning the play.
“We looked at every available angle and it was not clear and obvious that the foot was on the white,” Walt Anderson, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, told the pool reporter after the game.
“It was very tight, very close. There was no shot that we could see — we even enhanced and blew up the views that we had. There was nothing that was clear and obvious that his foot was touching the white. ... Had the ruling on the field been incomplete, we would not have been able to change that either.”
The touchdown left the Patriots and Raiders tied 24-24 with only half a minute left to play. New England attempted to drive into game-winning field goal range but failed to do so. Instead, the team turned the ball over on a lateral-gone-wrong — a play resulting in a game-deciding Las Vegas touchdown.