Just weeks into the XFL’s first season, the league has had its first major officiating error.
Unlike the NFL, however, the XFL addressed the problem within hours.
Near the end of the Houston Roughnecks’ 32-23 win against the Seattle Dragons at TDECU Stadium on Saturday, Houston quarterback P.J. Walker went to take a knee to kill the last four seconds on the clock and officially end the game.
Yet when Walker took a knee on 4th-and-23, there was still two seconds on the clock. So, since Walker took a knee on fourth down, the play should have been blown dead and Seattle should have been given one final shot with the ball at Houston’s 21-yard-line.
While it would have taken an incredible play and conversion to pull it off, the Dragons should have still been given that chance.
Instead, however, the clock ran down completely and the game was called.
XFL Houston QB Phillip Walker kneels on 4th down with 2 seconds left in the game that would’ve given Seattle the ball on the Houston 20 in a one score game (3 point conversions are possible).— Bad Sports Refs (@BadSportsRefs) March 7, 2020
Instead, game clock runs out, refs leave, and XFL says “see...what had happened was...” pic.twitter.com/0Dd8v3VAqb
Even the ESPN announcers were stunned that the game was over, clearly realizing that there should still be time left on the clock. As they explained that to the audience at home, though, the officials could be seen walking off the field.
Just hours later — unlike how its NFL counterpart takes days to do — the league announced it had reviewed the play, owned up to the mistake and apologized for it.
“Saturday’s Seattle Dragons-Houston Roughnecks game should not have ended as it did,” the league said in a statement. “Replays showed clearly that the knee of Houston quarterback P.J. Walker touched the field, rendering him ‘down’ and the fourth-down play officially completed, with approximately two seconds remaining on the clock — effectively turning the ball over on downs. With a nine-point differential in the score, Seattle was denied an opportunity to tie the game.
“The XFL sincerely regrets this error.”
ESPN announcers press officiating supervisor
After seeing the play happen in real time and recognizing the error, ESPN announcer Steve Levy asked XFL officiating supervisor Wes Booker about the play.
Booker admitted on air that a mistake was made, but that they were still ending the game as is.
“There should be two seconds left,” Booker said. “We had determined that the game was over. We went back and looked at it in replay, but it was already ... the game was already over so there’s nothing we could do to get everybody back.”
When pressed about it, Booker didn’t really have a good answer as to why they couldn’t give them one last play, either.
“I’ll see right here what we can do, but like I said the game was over and the game is over,” he said.
Following his comments, the XFL also announced that Booker has been reassigned.
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