Saints cheated out of interception by abysmal roughing the passer penalty

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Look. We know there have been all kinds of issues with officiating in the NFL this season. Last Monday’s Steelers-Bears game was just one example, albeit an especially loud one. But when it comes to the worst call of the 2021 season, we may look back after the fact and say that the roughing the passer penalty Jerome Boger’s crew laid on Saints pass-rusher Kaden Elliss in Sunday’s Saints-Titans game may be the most meritless of them all.

And yes, we know that roughing the passer is a specific point of emphasis this season, but is there any penalty that is more inconsistently officiated than the one in which the officials are supposed to determine whether a defender hit the helmet of the opposing quarterback? On the play in question, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw an end zone interception to safety Marcus Williams, but that pick was negated by a roughing the passer call on Elliss that really had no basis in fact. You tell us if you see anything resembling roughing the passer here. Elliss makes incidental contact with the back of Tanehill’s helmet, but if this is roughing the passer, we all need to stop, take a deep breath, and consider what we’re trying to accomplish here.

The Titans scored a touchdown on that drive with their second chance, putting the score at 13-7. We’ll have to see if there are any more longstanding ramifications from this ridiculousness.

“What you hope for in that play is that the umpire, who is in the offensive backfield and has the opposite angle, can come and talk to you there and walk you through that and hopefully get you to pick that up,” CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said on the broadcast. “So you get the right call at the end of the day. Because that is not roughing the passer, in my opinion.”

Boger’s umpire this season is Fred Bryan, and apparently, Bryan didn’t have enough to say on the subject.

If you want to know how inconsistently roughing the passer has been called this season, consider that per NFLPenalties.com, while this was Boger’s sixth of the season, Land Clark’s and Ron Torbert’s crews tied for the lead through Week 9 with eight calls each, and Bill Vinovich’s crew hadn’t called a single roughing the passer penalty.