Phantom penalty call on Texans leads to gift touchdown for Dolphins

Yahoo Sports

Early in the broadcast of the Miami Dolphins-Houston Texans game, as officials spent a strange amount of time trying to figure out a penalty on the opening kickoff, Fox commenter Troy Aikman made a joke about the NFL firing official Hugo Cruz on Thursday.

Later in the first quarter, the tone was a little more serious as the officials totally botched a call that gave the Dolphins a touchdown.

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Officials called Texans defensive end Joel Heath for hitting Dolphins long snapper John Denney in the head/neck area. The problem? Heath never hit Denney in the neck or head, and neither did anyone else on the Texans.

If it helps, the Dolphins got hosed a little later, when the Texans grabbed Miami receiver Danny Amendola downfield, no flag was thrown and Justin Reid picked off the pass to Amendola from Bock Osweiler. That led to a Texans score.

‘I don’t see it’

The Dolphins lined up for a field goal late in the first quarter but they were handed a first down on a personal foul. Long snappers are protected; you can’t hit them in the head or neck. As the Fox crew watched the replay, there was a long pause as they tried to find the foul.

“I don’t see it,” play-by-play man Joe Buck said.

“Nor do I. I’m waiting to see where it comes in,” Aikman said.

Then they called in officiating expert Mike Pereira, who explained the rule, then said he didn’t see it either.

“To me, that’s clear shoulder-to-shoulder contact and not a foul, “ Pereira said.

“This is a bad start for this crew,” Buck said.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t happy about a personal foul penalty on his team, one that shouldn’t have been called. (AP)
Texans coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t happy about a personal foul penalty on his team, one that shouldn’t have been called. (AP)

Dolphins given an early touchdown

The bad call got worse on the next play. Kenyan Drake took a run around right tackle for a touchdown the Dolphins shouldn’t have had.

There have been a few officiating controversies this season, because there always are. There was the shocking news about Cruz’s firing on Thursday. And then in a high-profile spot on national television, the officials blew a call that led to the Dolphins being gifted an early lead.

NFL officials have had better days.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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