There were a number of missed opportunities in Monday night’s crushing 25-23 home loss to the Buccaneers that surely kept the Giants up late into the night and into Tuesday morning.
No sequence, however, was more exasperating than their final offensive play — a missed two-point conversion that, if converted, would have tied the game at 25-25 with 28 seconds remaining.
On the play, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones tried to connect with running back Dion Lewis in the shallow right side of the end zone and Buccaneers rookie cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. was called for pass interference.
Side judge Nate Jones, who played college football at Rutgers and is a former Cowboys cornerback, threw the flag on Winfield, who appeared to grab Lewis’ hand as the ball arrived and bounced off Winfield’s arm.
The Giants thought they’d have another crack from the 1-yard line. They were wrong.
Referee Brad Rogers gathered the crew together for an agonizing several moments and the call on the field — one that by rule could not be reviewed on replay — was reversed. The flag was picked up, Winfield was not assessed the penalty and the game was over, the Giants falling to 1-7.
“I thought Nate [Jones] made the right call when he threw the flag,’’ Giants coach Joe Judge said. “I’m not sure why it got picked up. We had a pretty clear view of it. I know they can’t use the Jumbotron for replay. I thought Nate made the right call the first time. Normally your first instinct is right.
“That’s all I’m going to say about the officiating. I know it’s going to be a lot of follow-up questions to it. I’m just going to be very clear and concise about that right there.’’
At the time of the reversal and on his way off the field after the game, Judge was anything but as composed as he sounded on the postgame Zoom call with reporters. An amateur lip reader could see him scream, “That’s a [bleeping] joke,’’ after the reversal. And, on his way off the field, Judge remained livid.
“I thought it was pass interference and was surprised when they picked [the flag] up,’’ said Jones, who lamented that he didn’t get the ball out quickly enough to Lewis. “We’ll watch it and learn from it I guess and see what they saw. But tough break. I was certainly surprised. You don’t see that often.’’
Brad Rogers, the referee, explained after the game to a pool reporter: “The side judge had the flag thrown on the play and came to the down judge who was on that side of the goal line. The communication between the side judge and the down judge was that the defender contacted the receiver simultaneously as the ball came in. And in order to have defensive pass interference, it has to be clearly early and hinder the receiver’s ability to make the catch.
“You want to make sure that it meets the qualifications for pass interference. And in our communication on the field, the down judge and the side judge communicated about the action and believed that it was appropriate to pick that flag up.”
The Buccaneers, of course, thought it was a great reversal by the refs.
“Antoine made a great play — he anticipated that the ball was coming and got his arm in there,’’ Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady said.
“He’s been consistent since the day he got here,’’ Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said of Winfield. “He’s a baller. He’s got it in his bloodlines [his father played in the NFL] and there’s not a stage that’s too big for him.’’
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