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NFL defends game-changing decision to overturn first down by Browns in OT loss to Raiders

The NFL stuck by its controversial and game-changing decision to overturn a Browns first down after a replay review late in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Running back Carlos Hyde was originally ruled to have gotten a first down by the nose of the ball on a third-and-2 run with 1:38 left in regulation in Oakland, Calif. The replay review determined his elbow hit the ground to end the play and the ball was short of the first-down marker by inches.

Instead of running out the clock for a victory over the Raiders, the Browns punted. The Raiders scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion to force overtime and escaped with a 45-42 win.

“From the line feed, you can see the line to gain is just past the 19 yard-line,” a league source told The Chronicle-Telegram in an email late Sunday night. “One replay angle shows the wrist and the elbow hit the ground simultaneously. Then when you go back to the line feed, you see the wrist hit the ground and you know the elbow is down. At that point, you are able to clearly see that the ball is short of the line to gain.”


Al Riveron, the NFL’s head of officiating, told ProFootballTalk he had enough camera angles to make the change.

“The angles definitely gave me a view and perspective that he was short,” Riveron said.

The Browns disagreed.

“It was an awful call,” receiver Jarvis Landry told reporters.

All replay decisions are made from league headquarters. Clear and obvious evidence is supposed to be required to overturn the call on the field.

“It had to be a heck of a review to turn that over on the third-and-short,” Mayfield said.

Former head of officiating Dean Blandino, the rules analyst on the Fox broadcast of the game, didn’t agree with the final decision.

“I don’t see any way they can change this call on the field,” he said.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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