With 21 seconds left on the clock and the Browns trailing the Ravens 25-20, Josh McCown threw a dart down the field to Terrelle Pryor. Pryor reeled the pass in and got out of bounds at the 10-yard line, setting up the Browns for a potential game-winning situation.
Except the officials penalized Pryor for taunting in what will be a heavily scrutinized penalty.
Following the play, Pryor attempted to throw the ball back to the official.
But after he tossed the ball to the waiting official, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, the man with the arrow above, started to stand up. As Webb started to stand, the ball hit him on the shoulder instead of making it back to the official.
The ball bounced off Webb and away from the official. Another ref yanked out his flag and threw it in the air, tagging Pryor with a penalty for taunting.
Technically this is correct, according to former VP of Officiating Mike Pereira, now at FOX Sports.
Pryor dropped the ball on the opponent, but I don't like that call as taunting.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) September 18, 2016
Technically it is, but I don't really like it.
And Browns coach Hue Jackson declined to draw a fine for bashing the officials.
#Browns Hue Jax on Pryor's flip: "we have to do a better job of getting the ball back to the ref"— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 18, 2016
The officials had already thrown a flag on the Ravens for defensive holding (a penalty that would've been declined because of the yardage the Browns picked up).
But instead of getting the ball on the 10-yard line with 21 seconds remaining, the Browns were forced to replay the down, because the Pryor penalty and the Ravens penalty offset.
On the very next play, McCown threw an interception and the game was over. Cleveland didn't get a good opportunity to go for the win at home in a critical game because the referees incorrectly believed that a ball bouncing softly off someone's shoulder was taunting.
Cleveland got hosed and the refs made a poor decision. A flag was absolutely not necessary in that situation.