The CFL has acknowledged its officials made two separate mistakes on a key play late in Hamilton Tiger-Cats loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in last Sunday’s East Semi-Final.
Both calls came on the same play late in the fourth quarter with the game time tied at 21. Ticat quarterback Zach Collaros completed a pass before taking a hit from Edmonton defensive end Odell Willis. A holding penalty against offensive tackle Brandon Revenberg negated the 17-yard gain and Hamilton challenged the hit on Collaros, looking for roughing the passer, but were denied by the replay official.
CFL vice president of football Glen Johnson said Wednesday the calls “do not meet the standard” set by the league.
On the issue of roughing the passer, Johnson said the league’s review process determined that replay official Jeff Harbin erred by not upholding the Ticats’ challenge against Willis.
“It was extremely close but when we go through it, we compare it to other ones we’ve called this season and I would have preferred that it would have been ruled differently,” Johnson said. “At the time, the replay official didn’t believe the hit was late but when we go back and look at the variety of different angles it’s clear that it’s within the tolerance we have for being called based on our video standards.”
Similarly, umpire Adam Paradowski, a four-year veteran from Moncton, New Brunswick, should not have flagged Revenberg for his block on the Eskimos’ Phillip Hunt.
“As the quarterback moves in the pocket, the official gets blocked out and by the time he gets the angle back, he sees the end of it and believes that’s enough for the holding call,” Johnson said. “But our standard is that we need to see the entire action.”
The result of the play should have given the Ticats a first down at their own 52-yard line with with just over 90 seconds on the clock. Hamilton had the wind in the fourth quarter and kicker Brett Maher tied the game with an 86-yard single just a few minutes earlier.
Instead, facing second-and-14 from their own 10-yard line, Collaros threw an interception on the next play. Edmonton kicked a field to win the game on the ensuing series. The loss ended Hamilton’s season.
“I don’t think that one play in one game affects the outcome. It affected the outcome of that play but there are many other things that go in to determining the outcome of a game,” Johnson said. “I think our guys do an excellent job under difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, both these things happened on one play.”
This is the second time this season the outcome of a Ticat game has been significantly impacted by errors in officiating acknowledged by the league.
In an October game against Ottawa, a botched replay call allowed the the Redblacks to retain possession of an apparent fumble and kick the game-winning field goal on the next play. The loss dealt a significant blow to Hamilton’s chances of winning the East Division, which was ultimately claimed by the Redblacks.
The official involved in that decision, Jeff Harbin, was also responsible for the error made on Sunday.
“There’s always concerns when we don’t get things right and it’s my job to make sure that we keep reducing errors – I’m as accountable for this as anybody,” Johnson said. “I think our officiating on the field has gotten measurable better – I’ve got that feedback from clubs and fans and now we have to ensure that we have replay in the right spot.
“These are very, very close calls.”