By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Just when you thought the Patriots escaped a Super Bowl win without drawing controversy.
Understandably confusing some who covered Super Bowl LIII, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted on Tuesday night from the NFL league meeting in Phoenix that the competition committee “admitted the Brandin Cooks play at the end of this year’s Super Bowl would have been ruled pass interference, giving the Rams the ball at 1-yard line.”
The “Brandin Cooks play”? “Admitted”?
The seemingly out-of-left-field report flummoxed many who watched the game with their own two eyes and could not for the life of them figure out what play the committee was even referencing.
The Brandin Cooks play?— Bob Socci (@BobSocci) March 27, 2019
Am I a complete idiot for not knowing what "the Brandin Cooks play at the end of this year's Super Bowl" is in reference to? https://t.co/bUR400NfNC— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) March 27, 2019
What Brandin Cooks play are you talking about? The one where Gilmore picked off Goff, or the one that J-Mac knocked away? https://t.co/De1aKu5eoD— Pat Lane (@plane_pats) March 27, 2019
It was simply a strange “admission” over a play that didn’t generate much controversy, if any, at the time. To clear up the confusion, the “Brandin Cooks play” happened when Patriots safety Duron Harmon knocked the ball away from what could have been a potential game-tying touchdown.
Take a closer look at the play, and you can see that not Harmon but Stephon Gilmore got a hand on Cooks’ left arm as he went for the ball. By the letter of the law the officials could have thrown a flag for defensive pass interference if they wanted to, and the Rams would’ve had a great chance to tie the Super Bowl with mere minutes left.
The competition committee said this play should have been interference and the #Rams would have gotten the ball on the 1-yard line. I pointed this out that night (some of you were irritated). It was subtle but by the letter of the law... pic.twitter.com/TdJi2YBnzw— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 27, 2019
Instead, Gilmore intercepted Jared Goff on the next play and the Patriots ran the clock down enough to secure their sixth Lombardi Trophy in the end.
It’s not only a confusing admission because of the lack of controversy surrounding the play at the time and in the weeks that followed. It also wouldn’t apply to the league’s rule change regarding pass interference flags. Sean McVay couldn’t have challenged the non-call because there was 4:29 left in the game. Pass interference will only be subject to challenge flags within the final two minutes of each half.
Even still, this would have been a ticky-tack call if the officials flagged Gilmore on the play. Only people who simply wish to see the Patriots lose truly want plays like that to result in penalties. It would’ve been actually controversial if the refs did get involved there. Only plays like the Nickell Robey-Coleman non-call in the NFC title game should invoke the new rule.
Ultimately, the league just can’t resist injecting more controversy into Patriots games. It’s almost pathological at this point.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.