Odd call at odd time dooms Dallas in loss at Washington
DENVER (AP) — The "snap infraction " that doomed Dallas to a 20-17 loss at Washington capped a wild Week 7 that began with Von Miller's kept promise to kick some Cardinals booty. It also included a flexed flop in Kansas City, a gamble that backfired in London, and Doug Pederson's proclamation that the pressure is off his slumping Super Bowl champs .
The biggest call of the weekend came when a Redskins lineman moved early as Cowboys kicker Brett Maher lined up for a tying 47-yard field goal in the final minute. The flag was on Dallas long snapper L.P. Ladoceur, who tilted the ball before the snap.
"Exact same things I've been doing for 14 years," Ladoceur said.
He's not alone. Long snappers routinely move the ball like Ladoceur did just before they snap it, and a flag is hardly ever thrown.
Instead of getting 5 yards closer, the Cowboys were backed up 5 yards, which mattered when Maher's 52-yarder clanked off the left upright, leaving the Redskins (4-2) atop the topsy-turvy NFC East instead of the Cowboys (3-4).
While fans across the country were wondering what the heck a "snap infraction" was, the NFL tweeted a video about the rule — but didn't say whether it was the correct call: "The illegal ball movement by the center in #DALvsWAS causes the defense to come across the neutral zone and contact a lineman."
Players and coaches in both locker rooms were stumped by the uncommon call by referee John Hussey's crew at such a crucial moment.
"This was a terrible call," NBC analyst Tony Dungy declared. "An illegal snap has to be an abrupt movement or something unusual. The Dallas center does neither one of those. It's not abrupt nor is it unusual."
NBC showed side-by-side views of Ladoceur's movement on the play that was whistled and the do-over and they looked identical. No flag was thrown on the second snap.
"That is his normal motion," Dungy argued. "He did it in the snap before that. The next snap he does the exact same thing."
Another debatable call with huge implications was Titans coach Mike Vrabel's decision to go for 2 — and then to throw the ball from the 1 after a flag for defensive holding on the first conversion pass — instead of going for the tie and playing for overtime in Tennessee's 20-19 loss to the Chargers in London.
"I'm not going to second-guess the call," Vrabel said after Marcus Mariota's pass to Taywan Taylor in traffic was tipped away by safety Adrian Phillips.
"I love the call, everyone in this locker room loved the call," Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe said. "We wanted to be aggressive no matter what, and that's what we did. Unfortunately, it just didn't go our way."
The Titans (3-4) had the momentum, having rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit.
Going for the win is a mantra, repeated most recently by Colts coach Frank Reich after a Week 4 loss, but maybe it's time NFL players, coaches and fans learn to look at ties like the NHL does.
Of the six most recent ties prior to this season, half of them had direct playoff implications, including the 13-13 deadlock between the Eagles and Bengals in 2008 in which Donovan McNabb famously admitted he didn't know a tie was even a thing.
At 9-6-1, the Eagles edged the Cowboys, Bears and Buccaneers — all 9-7 — for the final NFC wild-card spot that season.
The Eagles are the latest team to realize how uneasy the head is that wears the crown.
On a day dominated by Eric Reid and Malcom Jenkins turning the fight for racial and social justice into a skirmish on the field, the Eagles' 21-17 loss to the Panthers dropped Philadelphia to 3-4 a year after going 16-3.
Pederson said he told his team, "Hey, pressure's off of us. Nobody on the outside world is giving us a chance to do much of anything and the pressure's off, so we can go play, have fun and just relax."
BRONCOS KICKING BOOTY
Week 7 kicked off with a butt-kicking just like Miller promised as the Broncos snapped a four-game skid with a 45-10 thrashing of the Cardinals on Thursday night.
Miller, who had two strip sacks, acknowledged his message was really directed as his teammates.
"It was a smart thing because we can't make him a liar," Denver nose tackle Shelby Harris said Monday. "It just set the tone for the whole week. We said we were going to do it, and so we got to go out there and do it. Because if we don't, we're a bunch of liars."
DENVER DE JA VU
As he did in Denver last year, Mike McCoy stubbornly spread out his formation with a patchwork O-line that couldn't keep pass rushers off his young QB. He paid the price with a midseason firing for the second straight year, and his third pink slip in less than two years.
The Cardinals canned McCoy after what rookie head coach Steve Wilks called an "embarrassing" outing against the Broncos and the offense's putrid performance over seven games.
Wilks might regret Cardinals coaches leaving rookie QB Josh Rosen in the game until the end while the Broncos were fulfilling their pledge to whoop the Cardinals and teeing off on bewildered tackles. Rosen was injured on his final play, limping off with a sprained toe on his left foot.
Bengals-Chiefs seemed like a worthy choice for the NFL's first flexed game this season. A pair of first-place teams. Juicy plot lines with high-powered offenses in this year of skyrocketing scores. Deficient defenses.
It had all the makings of another shootout like the Chiefs and Patriots one week earlier.
Instead, it was another blowout, the league's second consecutive 45-10 shellacking in prime time as Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Marvin Lewis didn't do anything to keep up with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Andy Reid.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton