Arizona Cardinals players, coaches and fans were understandably furious Sunday after a Panthers touchdown via a Carson Palmer "fumble" wasn't reviewed and subsequently overturned via instant replay.
The NFL's explanation for not reviewing the play should have everyone even more upset.
In case you missed it, Palmer threw an incomplete shovel pass on third down early in the first quarter of the Cards' 30-20 loss in Carolina. The only problem: Officials on the field incorrectly ruled that the pass was actually a fumble, leading to a 46-yard scoop and score by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
Inexplicably, the play was not reviewed by the upstairs officiating crew assigned to look at questionable calls throughout the game, and Carolina took an early 7-0 lead.
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2016
This was somehow ruled a fumble after review https://t.co/BoK6OzOp0F
— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) October 30, 2016
On Monday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he received the following explanation from the NFL:
"There was a network feed problem to the coaches' booth. They did not have the proper feed for instant replay. So, they shut it down to fix it and that's when the play occurred. So, there was no instant replay feed," he said.
Arians said officials confirmed to him at halftime that they had gotten the call wrong on the field -- which, of course, did the Cardinals absolutely no good.
"It was confirmed a forward pass -- an obvious forward pass -- but no one had an instant replay feed to look at it," he said. "The replay official upstairs went with his naked eye, so he went with his call on the field because there was no video to watch at that point in time."
So... this explanation generates a couple questions:
1. How, in the year 2016, does the NFL not have some sort of backup system in place for when instant replay fails? Even the most high-tech systems malfunction from time to time, and that's understandable. What's not understandable is the NFL not having a contingency plan for coping with this situation if and when it occurs.
2. I know this is a dumb question, but here goes: What's stopping a replay official from simply finding the nearest high-definition television set and watching the replay there, just like everyone watching at home did? Wouldn't that be better than having your hands tied and allowing a potentially awful call to stand and alter the outcome of an important game?
The harsh irony for the Cardinals is that instant replay probably prevented officials on the field from getting the call right in the first place. Since the NFL reinstated replay in 1999, refs understandably seem to be more content to allow questionable plays to carry on rather than blow them dead.
It's likely that the closest official to the play saw Palmer's hand come forward but decided to swallow his whistle just in case it was a fumble. After all, the NFL has the benefit of instant replay -- and all touchdowns and turnovers are automatically reviewed. What do they have to lose by allowing the play to continue?
Well, thanks to the NFL's most recent display of incompetence, now we know.
In this case, not only did the Cardinals get hosed by not being afforded the benefit of replay -- as Carolina did later in the game when a Cam Newton interception was overturned -- but the officials on the field came off looking like buffoons, all because of the NFL's lack of a basic contingency plan.
Look: Palmer's "fumble" didn't cost Arizona the game Sunday. But it certainly set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, just as Michael Floyd's drop did in the Cardinals' road loss to the Bills five weeks earlier.
Returning to Charlotte, where they were dismantled in the NFC Championship Game just nine months earlier, Palmer and the Cards must have had a feeling of déjà vu when the Panthers took the lead just three minutes into Sunday's game. The play likely had a more profound affect on the team psychologically than it did on the scoreboard.
Hopefully Sunday's ridiculousness will encourage the NFL to come up with a Plan B in order to ensure teams won't get hosed by these kind of situations going forward. Of course, any action taken will be too late for Arians and the Cards, whose playoff hopes took a hit thanks in part to the NFL's complete lack of common sense.
In the meantime: The NFL's explanation for not reviewing Palmer's "fumble" is pathetic -- and to quote Coach Arians after last weekend's tie vs. the Seahawks, it's bull--- like normal.