One of the reasons that Bills fans have such a hard time accepting that Sammy Watkins fumbled on his “touchdown” is that they incorrectly believe that all scoring plays are reviewed. All scoring plays are NOT reviewed.
In defense of the Bills fans, for the past few years, we have all been fed the same line from every single NFL announcer…over and over and over. “All scoring plays are reviewed. All scoring plays
are reviewed. All scoring plays are reviewed.” Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
The NFL rulebook states that the video official is the only person who CAN initiate a review on a scoring play. It does NOT state the said replay official MUST review anything. It says he “has the ability to initiate a review” if he wants. But he doesn’t have to.
That’s an important distinction that so-called professional announcers get wrong every single week.
A coach cannot ask for a scoring review. The referee cannot initiate it. If a review is to come at all, it comes from the replay official. But that “if it comes at all” part is important. The replay official doesn’t have to do anything if he thinks a score was clean.
It’s very subjective. And that makes it dangerous.
When a field goal goes right down the middle, does the replay official call down to the referee and say, “You better go under the hood and verify it went through. After all, every single score must be
reviewed?” Of course not. That does not happen and it’s not in the rules.
When a runner scores on an easy touchdown, running upright and untouched into the endzone, is that play reviewed? Nope. It’s not hard to tell. You see the referee lining up for the extra point, so
it’s obvious he is not under the hood.
All scoring plays are not reviewed. That phrase is nowhere in the rule book whatsoever.
Instead, the subjective nature of the rule comes into play because the replay official gets to determine if there is any controversy. A running back walks the ball right into the middle of the
endzone? No real need to review, right? It looks obvious, right?
Maybe so. But what about a play where the runner may have stepped out of bounds. It’s up to the replay official to say to himself, “Hmm, this one is not so obvious, so I will tell the referee to
review it.” But again, the replay official is not mandated by the rule book to do this. He simply decides on his own. Scary. And wrong.
So now we come to the Sammy Watkins fumble. After the referees incorrectly signalled touchdown, only a few seconds went by before they lined up for the extra point. The referee never went under the hood. That play simply was not reviewed. The replay official did not call down to the referee. And that is where the problem lies.
How can an allegedly unbiased official up in the booth watch Watkins fumble, and then allow the refs to give him a touchdown, and think everything is fine? Look at that photo above. Is everything fine?
If the refs on the field think Watkins scored (he didn’t, but let’s just say), then let them confirm that after review. But to not even review it in the first place? This terrible call should once and for all dispel the myth that all scoring plays are reviewed.