Lost in the shuffle of everything that happened in the immediate aftermath of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ending on Sunday was how close we were to a potential officiating controversy.
It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened in Detroit, nor would it be the Bucs first run-in with a call that impacted the outcome of a game. Lest we forget the brief conversation that erupted over why Hail Mary plays are immune to pass interference penalties in the wake of Tampa Bay nearly upsetting the Bills in Week 8.
Something to a lesser degree occurred near the end of the NFC Divisional Round showdown in Motown.
After scoring a touchdown to come within one score of the Lions, Tampa Bay attempted a two-point conversion that failed on what appeared to be defensive pass interference on Ifeatu Melifonwu. Mike Evans was the intended target but it looked as though his path was illegally impeded by Melifonwu.
No flag was thrown and the attempt was ruled unsuccessful. It was still a one score game, but it left Bucs fans hot under the collar for a good few minutes.
NFL rules analyst explains DPI no-call on Bucs two-point conversion
NBC’s rules analyst Terry McAuley gave a brief explanation of the no-call, explaining that Evans wasn’t significantly hindered from catching the ball and therefore no flag should have been thrown.
“There’s slight contact, but I don’t see anything that significantly hinders the receiver at all on this one, McAuley explained. “Good no-call there.”
He’s not wrong, but the context of the call is what many took issue with. This wasn’t some second down play, it was a two point conversation that would significantly impact the way the Bucs called the rest of the game.
As it turned out, the Bucs did get the ball back and still needed to score a touchdown, but would have needed a two-point conversion to tie the game. It was an interesting call by Todd Bowles, who fans had been begging to be more aggressive all season only to watch him push his chips in at the most unexpected time.
Tampa Bay turned the ball over on a Baker Mayfield interception, ending the drive and the season. It also rendered the controversial no-call meaningless, but we merely had to wait a few hours for another call in the Bills-Chiefs game to become what this one almost was.