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Browns rally but fall short in Baltimore 26-24 to end the season: Five Takeaways

2) Robbed by the Refs

There have been no shortage of officiating blunders that cost the Browns this season. The worst among them may have come tonight tough.

The play in question came just under the two-minute mark of the second quarter. Set up at the Cleveland one-yard line, Ravens rookie QB Lamar Jackson called his own number, attempting  to leap over the offensive line and extend the ball across the goal line. Jackson thought he broke the plane but actually pulled the ball down too soon and then had it dislodged by defensive tackle Larry Ogundjobi. The loose ball was scooped up by safety Jabrill Peppers who had nothing but green in front of him.

What should have been a 94-yard fumble return for a touchdown was whistled dead because the line judge ruled that Jackson had scored. After taking it to review the call was reversed and the fumble stood, but per NFL rules the ball could not be advanced. Cleveland got the ball at their own seven to start a drive, but had likely points snatched away from them.

Of course it’s irresponsible to look back at one play and say “this is why a team lost.” That said, it’s equally irresponsible for the officials to blow a play dead unless they’re sure of what they saw. The NFL has emphasized that officials let things play out in these types of situations rather than be trigger happy with the whistle. That clearly didn’t happen here and it’s fair to wonder what could have been if Peppers had been allowed to return that fumble for six.

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