In Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans, the New York Giants saw their playoff hopes dashed in an underwhelming, 17-0, defeat at MetLife Stadium.
However, weeks later, the NFL is now acknowledging that the referees got a crucial call wrong in the third quarter — a call that led to a Titans touchdown and a 14-0 lead that essentially crippled any remaining hope the Giants had.
The penalty came on a third-and-goal when Giants defensive end Josh Mauro was called for a facemask penalty, giving Tennessee a fresh set of downs at the one-yard line.
The problem? Replays showed Mauro never touched the facemask of Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Making matters worse, the league then fined Mauro for the penalty after the game.
On Tuesday, the league walked all of that back, rescinding the fine on Mauro and admitting outright the referees got it wrong.
The admission by the NFL is just the latest in a long line of apologies they’ve had to make this season due to poor officiating. It’s become especially highlighted in the wake of the NFC Championship Game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams in which a blatant pass interference went uncalled, essentially altering the outcome of the game.
There were several other instances this past season in which poor calls or non-calls were made on the field, even resulting with the in-season firing of one official and the suspension of another (stemming from a post-game confrontation between a referee and a player). There were also a handful of times Giants head coach Pat Shurmur submitted film to the league offices and requested an explanation of the calls.
All resulting correspondence between Shurmur and the league offices has remained confidential.
Correcting the Week 15 call now does absolutely nothing for the Giants and may not have even made a difference then, but it highlights an ongoing issue within the NFL and one that must, for the good of the game, be addressed this offseason.