Did Peyton Manning know that he got away with one against the Texans? We may never know for sure. (Joe Amon/Getty Images)
Ready for yet another officiating controversy in the 2013 NFL season? Well, here we go. According to Houston Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips, the NFL has told the Texans that Peyton Manning's 50th touchdown pass of the season should not have counted. Technically, Manning broke Tom Brady's single-season record for touchdown passes in a season and landed with 51 at the end of Denver's 37-13 win over Houston last Sunday. But the penultimate score in Manning's season so far does look a bit dicey because receiver Eric Decker bobbled the ball and did not maintain possession through the end zone with 7:04 left in the game.
"We did get some good news," Phillips said on Friday. "Actually, it’s bad news for Peyton Manning because the league did come back and say that the ball was juggled by Decker and shouldn’t have been a touchdown. I guess they’re going to have to take that Hall of Fame ball that they sent to the Hall of Fame back. I feel bad for Peyton celebrating breaking the record and it really didn’t happen. I guess they still count it, don’t they? Anyway, the League came and said that it was not a touchdown. Unfortunately, they ruled it a touchdown on the field and then they reviewed and said it was a touchdown. But now the League came back and said it wasn’t, which we said all along.”
Phillips was joking about the record being reversed -- that won't happen, of course. But Ed Hochuli did appear to blow the call on replay. Manning threw to Decker from the Houston 20-yard line on third-and-9, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we can see that per the league's current rules, Decker did not maintain possession.
Decker gets his first foot down in the end zone as he catches the ball...
Decker then goes forward and starts to bobble the ball...
Decker gets his second foot in bounds, but he's clearly bobbling the ball at this point...
And when Decker goes get his second foot down with actual control of the ball, he's out of bounds.
“I’m on the other side of a lot of those too but it really doesn’t change anything," Broncos head coach John Fox said Friday in response. "So I’ll just leave it at that,”
Fox later told the Associated Press that in Denver's Week 14 win over the Tennessee Titans, a Manning touchdown pass to Decker was incorrectly overturned on review. It was ruled that Decker hadn't broken the plane of the goal line, but replays showed that no defender touched the receiver before he went over.
Decker's right knee hits the ground at the Tennessee 1 1/2-yard line...
...but no defender touched him before he rolled into the end zone. However...
...there was a fanny-pack incident at the two-yard line which bore closer scrutiny.
"After reviewing the play, the receiver, while he was catching the ball, his foot touched the knee of the defender -- he is down at the two-yard line," referee Scott Green ruled on the reversal.
In addition, cornerback Alterraun Verner touched Decker's fanny pack as the receiver was going down, and I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever typed that.
We'll give Decker the last word on this one.
“Obviously, coaches want the games to be called fair. He didn’t think it was the right call, which I thought it was. So, he’s going to voice it to the league. But it still counts.”