Browns still jumpy over critical offside call
Oct. 08, 2015
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Browns are still a little jumpy over an offside call late in last week's loss at San Diego.
When Cornerback Tramon Williams was penalized for going across the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped last Sunday, it gave Chargers rookie kicker Josh Lamob a second chance after he pushed his 39-yard field goal attempt right.
The Browns were backed up 5 yards for Williams' infraction and Lambo made a 34-yarder with no time showing on the clock to give San Diego a 30-27 win.
It was a heartbreaker Cleveland, which has endured its share of tough losses in recent years.
But days later, the Browns (1-3) aren't so sure they weren't wronged.
"Awfully close call," special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said Thursday. "It's a judgment call right there."
Browns coach Mike Pettine would not divulge whether the NFL acknowledged the officials had made a mistake after reviewing the contentious call.
On Wednesday, Williams had offered a different story, telling Cleveland.com that the league had informed the Browns that he wasn't offside.
However, NFL spokesman Michael Signora said the league never made such a claim.
"No, it is not true," Signora said in an email to AP. "The video we have is inconclusive because we do not have a shot from the line of scrimmage. The person with the best view was the line judge who made the call on the field."
Williams was unwilling to repeat his stance that the league had owned up to another error, just days after officials blew a call in the Detroit-Seattle game on Monday night.
"It really doesn't matter," said Williams as the Browns prepared for Sunday's game in Baltimore. "The only thing that matters now is that we get better and don't put ourselves in that situation. It really doesn't matter. The game is over. It's not going to change anything."
Williams said he can't worry about the inconsistency in what he asserts the Browns heard from the NFL and what the league has told the media.
"I'm not worrying about what they're saying," he said. "What I'm worried about is this team and how we can get a win. That's over, man."
From Tabor's perspective, Williams, who was lined up on the defense's far right side, perfectly timed his jump with the snap and was able to affect Lambo's miss.
"I thought he did, but I can tell you out on the field, it was so close, and at the end of the day, it really makes no difference," he said. "We lost the football game, and we're sitting at 1-3 and that's what our record is, and we're going to try our darndest to get to 2-3."
Pettine said watching the play live he thought Williams had jumped early. He was satisfied with the communication he had with the league over the matter, and was sympathetic to the challenge officials have in getting the call correct.
"I think (NFL vice president of officiating) Dean Blandino and his crew in New York do an excellent job," Pettine said.
"They are very candid when mistakes are made — I am not saying that is the case here — but just in general, they are very open about it. I don't get into the details of the report for obvious reasons, but I think also even if you took at the TV copy of that play or had access to the All-22 and just watched it in slow motion, it is such a difficult thing to officiate.
"Imagine putting yourself on the line in front of it and trying to gauge if somebody moves exactly and nobody else moves. I mean if you have the advantage to go frame by frame — that would be very difficult to officiate — but (the officials) don't have the advantage. He's not holding a remote going frame by frame. It's real time."
NOTES: Pettine said CB Justin Gilbert, the former first-round pick who has been a disappointment, has lined up at wide receiver during some practices. "With the numbers and injuries, we've had to throw him on offense at wide receiver and he doesn't look out of place," Pettine said. Gilbert averaged 36.7 yards on three kickoff returns last week and Tabor intends to keep him in that role. ... S Donte Whitner returned after missing Wednesday's practice with an unspecified illness. S Tashaun Gipson (ankle) and WR Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh) remained sidelined. ... The Browns haven't won in Baltimore since 2007.
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