Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams caught a nice leaping touchdown in the end zone to take a 20-3 lead over the Browns, and Cleveland’s fans booed loudly. They weren’t booing the score so much as the officials, who they thought missed a false start penalty on Chargers left tackle Russell Okung.
They were right: Okung clearly jumped before the ball was snapped. In fact, the obviousness of the false start probably helped the Chargers on the play, as several Browns defenders held up.
It was the kind of false start NFL tackles tend to get away with. Look around the league and you’ll see tackles leaving early all the time.
Here’s an example: Back in 2015, the Eagles upset the Patriots, 35-28. This may seem unbelievable, but after the game, a New England-based sportswriter looked at the tape and found that the referees had jobbed the Pats. NESN’s Doug Kyed reported the refs missed eight false starts against Philadelphia. Of course, he was right: Eagles offensive tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson get away with false starts all the time. Lots of tackles do! Maybe the NFL lets teams get away with this in order to protect quarterbacks.
Today’s instance was a tough break for the Browns, but part of a good day for Williams, who has two touchdown catches. On his first score, he snagged the ball out of the air while being covered by three Browns defenders.