As it turned out, the offensive pass interference penalty that negated the Carolina Panthers' third-quarter touchdown may have cost them a very close game against the Chicago Bears. The Panthers had first-and-10 from the Chicago 22-yard line, and Cam Newton threw deep right to tight end Jeremy Shockey.
What looked like a legitimate touchdown became the penalty that moved the Panthers back to the Chicago 32-yard line. Four plays later, Olindo Mare's 34-yard field-goal attempt was blocked, and the Panthers got no points on the drive. Not that a field goal would have made a bit of difference in the final 34-29 score, but it's in looking at the play where the Panthers' frustration becomes obvious and understandable.
It looks like a bang-bang play as Shockey's releasing from Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, where there's contact from both sides. As Shockey does release to the goal line with 6:40 left in the third quarter, he puts a hand on Tillman, who then falls to the ground. If the final contact got Shockey flagged and the touchdown negated, the Panthers have every right to be angry — it was a ticky-tack call, and the kind of passive push-off you'll see more than once every football weekend. Problem is, there was apparently no response from the officials as to exactly what happened.
Shockey's reaction is what made it newsworthy.
"We pay their salary, and I can't even get an explanation," Shockey said after the game. "So, I'd like to see the explanation when they do get graded. I asked them the question, and they don't tell me [expletive]. Again, they should be held accountable as well."
According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Shockey went further than that, questioning how it is that officials fly free and get other perks, but are not held accountable when on the field.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was a bit more reasonable after the game. "The referees are doing the best they can out there ... Calls go both ways."
The following message was left on Shockey's Twitter account right after the game, but it turned out to be from one of the player's friends:
Worst f.... call ever. NFL I need an explanation. Pls hold the strip[e]s accountable. integrity must be keep as the comish preaches
Shockey later cleared this up:
Wow never leave your acct open when on a road trip. Thx Pedro. Lol but some of it's true
The NFL should have an interesting response to this — just a week after former VP of officiating Mike Pereira went off on Michael Vick multiple times because Vick had the temerity to assume that he should have the same protection in the pocket as any other quarterback, here comes Shockey, questioning the integrity of the officials in sort of a sideways fashion.
No question it was an iffy call, and it may have cost the Panthers their second win of the season. Because of those two things, Shockey may get off light in the fine department. I just hope he gets the explanation he apparently hasn't to date.