Early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 35-28 loss to the Saints, the Buccaneers were called for unsportsmanlike conduct for simulating the snap count on a field goal attempt. On Tuesday, general manager Mark Dominik met with the media to clarify the NFL's position on the play.
Sunday’s 35-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints was painful for a number of reasons. As in most games, a couple of plays were the difference between winning and losing, and Sunday was no different.
One of those painful plays came early in the fourth quarter when the Buccaneers defense held the Saints on third down and forced New Orleans to attempt a 51-yard field goal. As the Saints snapped the ball, the yellow flag flew from the umpires back pocket and the play was blown dead.
The call from the referee was unsportsmanlike conduct and an automatic first down. Four plays later the Saints scored their last – and ultimately the deciding touchdown.
Head coach Greg Schiano went ballistic on the sidelines screaming at the referees and pleading his case to no avail.
On Tuesday general manager Mark Dominik spoke to the local media and explained the NFL’s stance on the specific penalty.
“Just to update, I have been in contact with the league office on that play,” Dominik said. “Everything we did from a defensive line point is legal – the shifting. Mason Foster – everything he did in terms of movement is legal. Everything. The only thing up for (debate) as to why the flag was thrown was the disconcerting sound of which the league office said they heard a 'huh-huh.' That is what the umpire said he heard.”
Dominik explained this wasn’t the first time the Buccaneers had used that tactic.
“Now we have run the play with success before – against Washington,” Dominik said. “It is clear we say move on that play (against) Washington. There is no audio transcript of the New Orleans play. At that point it was a judgment of what he thought he heard. And that is why the flag was thrown.
Some in the media have questioned Schiano’s tactics on several occasions; most notably the now well known kneel down play earlier this year at New York. The latest controversy has added some fuel to the puzzling anti-Schiano sentiment, but Dominik said it shouldn’t.
“So it is a legal play up to the point of what did the player actually say,” Dominik said. “We coach our players to say the same thing we did against Washington. And the reason why we do the play – and this is not a play that Greg took from Rutgers or college – it is a play we have seen at the NFL level, that we have already had success with. And that is why we did it again.”
Dominik went on to sum up the league’s position.
“(The word) move is permitted,” Dominik said. “As long as he is not simulating the sound of the count. That is permitted. So it is what the word sounds like, not specifically the word.”
Whether the Buccaneers continue to use the field goal tactic is still up in the air Dominik said.
“I’ll let the coaching staff and everybody in the organization decide whether we see it again, or use it again.”
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