The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, 31-7, but they were robbed of a turnover in that contest, the NFL acknowledged on Wednesday night.
In the second quarter of last Sunday's game in Atlanta, Falcons wide receiver Roddy White fumbled the ball after he was drilled by Bucs linebacker Cato June. The ball was recovered by Tampa Bay cornerback Brian Kelly, who lateraled the ball back to June.
June attempted to pitch the ball back to one of his teammates, but fumbled the ball back to Atlanta.
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden challenged the ruling on the field, asking the officials to review whether Kelly and/or June's knee was down.
Replay showed that Kelly was not down. However, what the replay also showed was June's knee was down before the ball came loose, which meant Tampa Bay should have retained possession since replay rules state that an entire play is subject to review when any particular part of it is challenged.
NFL vice president of officiating Mike Perera acknowledged referee Walt Coleman's mistake on the NFL Network Total Access' weekly segment, Official Review, on Wednesday night.
"Jon [Gruden] just has to get into the play. He just has to get into the review process," explained Perera. "He can challenge any portion of that play. Then it's our responsibility after that to review the whole play and even elements he doesn't challenge. So really Gruden is right. He challenges one particular aspect of the play, which is the first potential of the Tampa Bay player being down by contact, and we spent all of our time, quite frankly, looking at that part of the play that we didn't go back to Cato June, where he recovered the ball and was down before his lateral.
"We should have followed it through to the conclusion of the play, which Jon should have expected we would have done. We just have to follow that whole process because really Tampa Bay should have had that ball at the end of the play."
Gruden was pleased to learn that Perera acknowledged the replay mistake made by Coleman, who was also the official in the Oakland Raiders vs. New England Patriots game that included the controversial and infamous tuck rule call from a Jan. 2002 Divisional Playoff contest.
"We were right on the instant replay," Gruden said Thursday. "Review the play is what you're supposed to do. Officiate the play. Those are the rules. Every year they tell us, so I don't know why there is any question, and obviously there is no question. The head of officiating says there's no question."
Not everyone was off from work for Thanksgiving.
The 6-4 Buccaneers held practice from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday in preparation for the 5-5 Washington Redskins.
While football will be a big part of his Thanksgiving, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said he does have plans to spend quality time with his family on Thursday.
"There will be a lot of football involved," said Gruden. "I'll spend a few hours with the family and then get back on the game plan."
ASKEW, PITTMAN, SPIRES MISS PRACTICE
Tampa Bay held three players – fullback B.J. Askew (ankle), running back Michael Pittman (ankle) and defensive end Greg Spires (calf) out of practice Thursday.
Spires has been ruled out of Sunday's game vs. Washington. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said he expects Askew to be able to play on Sunday.
Pittman's status is unclear after he re-aggravated his ankle injury in Atlanta last Sunday. Some have questioned if Pittman returned to action too early from the ankle sprain he suffered on Oct. 7.
However, the Bucs believe Pittman injured his ankle on Atlanta's artificial playing surface, which is the same type of surface he initially sustained the injury on in Indianapolis.
"You can look at it like [he returned too early] or you can look at it like he got in a pile and sprained his ankle again," said Gruden. "It's unfortunate. We need him, bad. That injury hurts us.
"He re-aggravated it and his status for this week is very much in question."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on having his younger brother Jay over his house for Thanksgiving:
"Usually my brother [Jay] and his boys come over and we have a nice meal. Then we have a flag football game in the backyard. It's his kids versus my kids and we're 26-point underdogs right now."
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