Falcons coach Dan Quinn stomped down the sideline, screaming at officials for not throwing a penalty flag. National television commentators said the Falcons got robbed. Saints coach Sean Payton said the league needs to expand replay reviews to include pass interference.
By Monday, though, Quinn was philosophical about the controversial no-call that ended his team’s hopes at Seattle on Sunday.
“The message I gave to the team — and I wholeheartedly believe it — it does not come down to one play,” Quinn said. “We had our opportunities in that ballgame to make game-winning plays (and) game-statement plays earlier and we didn’t do that. It just so happened on that one, it all got magnified.”
That play was the subject of national conversation in the wake of the Falcons’ 26-24 defeat to the Seahawks. The general consensus: Richard Sherman, Seattle’s star cornerback, got away with one against Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones.
With the Falcons facing a fourth-and-10 on their own 25-yard line, Sherman grabbed Jones’ right arm and tugged at him as Jones jumped for Matt Ryan’s deep pass down the middle of the field. A pass interference penalty would have given Falcons the ball at about the Seattle’s 35-yard line with 1:30 to go and one timeout.
Instead, the Seahawks took over on downs and ran out the clock.
The non-call prompted Quinn’s angry outburst. He said he sent the play on Monday to the NFL for review. (The league usually responds to such requests on Tuesday.)
“The league will certainly look at it and they will grade all of the officials, too,” Quinn said. “I was certainly ticked off as a competitor. But I will let (the league) comment on the play.”
NBC analysts Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy sharply criticized officials for not calling a penalty against Sherman. Harrison said the non-call “cost Atlanta the game” while Dungy said he believes officials were reluctant to call a penalty at such a critical part of the game.
Unlike Payton, whose Saints were on the wrong end of a pass interference call against the Panthers, Quinn said he had no opinion on whether the league should allow such penalties to be reviewed on replay.
“It’s something that the league has considered in the past — which plays aren’t (reviewable), which plays are,” Quinn said. “I think the topic is there because the penalties are so big at times. I’m sure it will be something the competition committee will look in to.”
Quinn lamented some key opportunities that the Falcons missed before the controversial call.
He pointed to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson escaping pressure and lobbing a third-down pass to running back Alex Collins, setting up Seattle’s go-ahead field goal. Quinn said he also was disappointed that the Falcons recovered none of the three fumbles they forced. A key play Quinn didn’t mention: a dropped pass by Jones that led to an interception before Seattle’s last field goal.
Still, Quinn said the Falcons showed resiliency by outscoring the Seahawks 21-0 in the third quarter after trailing 17-3 at halftime. He said the team’s “bond grew stronger” during the 10-night trip. The Falcons went directly to Seattle after beating the Broncos in Denver on Oct. 9.
Quinn said losing to the Seahawks in controversial fashion “definitely stings” but that the Falcons will quickly move forward.
“What happened (Sunday) is not going to affect what we are going to do in this game,” Quinn said. “We will reset. That is our mindset; that is our attitude. If we look too far back, there’s not going to be a lot to gain from that.”