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NFL neglected to properly review controversial TDs by Harvin, Watkins

Why didn't the NFL properly review controversial touchdowns by Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins?

All scoring plays in the NFL are subject to review. So what the heck happened Sunday?

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Despite the league's (thus far) more effective reviewing process, which now includes a war room in New York to help in-game referees make calls, a pair of controversial touchdowns were hung on the board without a meaningful second look on Sunday.

The first occurred on rookie Sammy Watkins' first career touchdown in Buffalo. Watkins caught a pass from EJ Manuel while streaking across the middle, then turned the corner and reached the football out for the pylon.

But did he actually get the ball there? Watkins appeared to bobble the football around the two, then lost it entirely just as he was awarded the touchdown.


If the ball reached either the front tip of the goal line or the pylon while still in Watkins' hands, the touchdown call was correct. However, if he fumbled it early, with the ball then hitting the pylon and rolling out of bounds, it should have been ruled a touchback and Miami's possession.

The CBS broadcast showed several replays and it was extremely close. There may not have been enough evidence in the long run to overturn the call on the field, but there certainly was plenty to warrant an extended review.

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Percy Harvin's touchdown at San Diego later Sunday was a far more clear-cut case. Harvin put Seattle in front 7-3 on a 51-yard rushing touchdown. Only ...


... he stepped out of bounds. The Watkins play may have been a borderline decision. This one was rather obvious. 

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Worse yet (as you can see in that photo above), there was an official no more than seven yards away from Harvin, staring right at him when he crossed the boundary. That official did not rule Harvin out of bounds, the automatic review of a scoring play apparently found nothing out of the ordinary and no replay was initiated. 

Coaches are not supposed to have to challenge scoring plays because of the built-in automatic review option. (You might recall that Jim Schwartz negated a possible replay by challenging a Houston touchdown on Thanksgiving back in 2012; that rule has since been changed to allow for reviews of scoring plays regardless of what the coach does.)

The NFL issued a statement after the game, saying Harvin's score was "incorrectly confirmed."

''Had the game been stopped for a replay review," the statement read, "the touchdown would have been reversed because Harvin stepped out of bounds at the San Diego 21-yard line."

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