For the second time in four nights, a team trailing 16-3 in an NFL game generated a pair of touchdowns with less than 3:30 on the clock to win, 17-16. For the second time in four nights, uncalled holding errors helped the effort.
On Monday night, it was Buccaneers Donovan Smith’s left tackle. Thursday night it was Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein.
Pete Damilatis, a producer at NBC Sports, tweeted images from four agencies in Havenstein’s last two drives holding Raiders, rusher Maxx passes Crosby, with his preferred move being a right forearm across the throat.
It happened at least twice on the drive that cut the score to 16-10, and at least twice on the drive that resulted in quarterback Baker Mayfield’s game-winning touchdown pass to receiver Van Jefferson. And it happened on Mayfield’s game-winning touchdown pass to Jefferson.
Here’s the video, posted by the NFL’s official Twitter account, from the last game of the key drive. The hold is clear and easy to see. Havenstein quickly lets go, but he holds onto the hold long enough to slow down Crosby, who was otherwise approaching Mayfield as he prepared to throw.
Amazon’s Kirk Herbstreit saw one of them, on third and 10 of the Raiders’ 24 with 6:32 to play. “I think that right tackle, Havenstein, gets away with one,” said Herbstreit. “Watch him grab it around the neck.”
Like with Smith on Monday night for the Bucs, if they don’t name it, why don’t they keep doing it? Or, as with the Legion of Boom and their approach to constantly holding receivers in 2013, do it every game and challenge the umpires to do it every game.
On Monday night it happened on the game-winning play, and it didn’t get called. On Thursday night it happened on the game-winning play, and it didn’t get called.
Plus, the Raiders weren’t complaining about it nearly enough — just as the Saints weren’t on Monday night.
That’s really the lesson here. Whether it’s incompetence or an unconscious desire on the part of the umpires to keep two-score games interesting until late (or even a Tim Donaghy-esque situation, which cannot be completely ignored given the proliferation of legalized gambling – and we’re certainly not blaming if any of the officials of either game is corrupt), the team on the wrong side of uncalled holding should be loud and clear that there is clear holding.