It wouldn’t be the NFL without a controversy involving officials.
The Buccaneers opened the 2021 NFL season with a 31-29 home win over the Cowboys on Thursday night thanks to a Ryan Succop field goal with two seconds remaining. The kick pushed Tom Brady and Tampa Bay to 1-0 on the season and ruined Dallas QB Dak Prescott’s return to the field.
But, per usual, the result was not without drama. While the Bucs were driving to take that late lead, a non-call involving wideout Chris Godwin and Dallas defensive back Jourdan Lewis raised eyebrows and left fans and analysts questioning why Godwin was not flagged for offensive pass interference on a key reception.
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While slow-motion replay has a tendency to reveal a bit more than what happened at game speed, it sure looked as though Godwin extended his arm and pushed off to get separation, which are basically the biggest requirements for OPI. Alas, no flag was thrown.
An argument can be made that Lewis was out of position and off balance while covering Godwin, but that still doesn’t excuse Godwin for the apparent push.
NBC Sports’ Terry McAulay, a former ref, says he would have called OPI.
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) September 10, 2021
It wasn’t the first non-call that victimized the Cowboys during the game. In the first half, Bucs linebacker Lavonte David removed his helmet and slammed it to the grass after a missed interception. David should have received a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead, officials apparently were rendered momentarily blind, and no flag was thrown. It wasn’t exactly a secret that David took off his helmet, either.
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In any case, Godwin’s 24-yard catch-and-run set up Succop’s go-ahead field goal and made up for an earlier fumble by Godwin near the goal line that led to a Cowboys go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Here’s to the first of many customary official screw-ups in 2021. The NFL is truly back.