The NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, Al Riveron, admitted in a Twitter video that the officials of the Browns-Raiders game made the wrong call in the fourth quarter when it appeared that Derek Carr fumbled the ball, and Larry Ogunjobi had a straight shot to the end zone. The refs blew the play dead because they believed Carr’s forward progressed had been stopped in the sack attempt.
“This is not forward progress,” Riveron said in the video. “Obviously, this is a fumble. We should not have blown the whistle, but because we rule forward progress on the play this is not reviewable.”
While Riveron reviewed other calls from the week, this was the only decision from this game that was featured in the video—an odd choice considering that there were other notable controversial calls. In a play that was reviewable, for example, the Browns were stripped of a first down even though the evidence to overturn the call wasn’t exactly indisputable. Even the Raiders were on the wrong end of a premature forward progress call when Marshawn Lynch was ruled down even though he was still in motion.
As for the call that Riveron did speak on, there’s clearly no guarantee that the fumble-return touchdown would have resulted in a Browns victory. That drive resulted in a Raiders punt and the Nick Chubb scored a rushing touchdown for Cleveland a few plays later. Sure, if the Ogunjobi touchdown had counted, they might have had enough time for a final drive after the Raiders tied the game at 42. But the sample size of Baker Mayfield-led game-winning NFL comebacks is one game against the Jets, and with Hue Jackson on the sideline, the limit of how many ways Cleveland could still find a way to lose does not exist.