Every Panthers fan, Broncos fan or just football fan knew; so why couldn’t the referees figure it out, instant replay and all? Trindon Holliday was credited with a 76-yard punt return touchdown, but he clearly did not come across the goal line with the football, celebrating a little prematurely when he tossed the ball. As a result, the NFL admitted on Monday that it should have been ruled a touchback with the ball given to the Panthers at their own twenty yard line.
This play was a turning point of sorts for the game; it was still all tied at seven when the play was made, and from there it was an onslaught of points from Manning and the Broncos as they scored the next 29 points and put the Panthers away for good. I’m not saying this could have changed the outcome of the game, but after enduring replacement refs for a couple weeks, we all assume every play should be properly called.
There were more repercussions to this play than just bad coverage resulting in six and an eventual blowout; the Panthers decided to part ways with special teams coach Brian Murphy on Monday due to what he called a lack of production and philosophical differences. Assistant Richard Rodgers, who the Panthers hired over the offseason to help Murphy, will be taking his place as the special teams coordinator. Rodgers was a team mate of Coach Rivera back at Cal, and is looking to simplify things and get back to the fundamentals to eliminate all the big plays the Panthers are giving up on special teams coverage.
Oddly enough, this was the second disputed call that the Panthers have been involved in during the last couple weeks. The last one worked in their favor when Deangelo Williams was credited with a 30 yard touchdown although an inadvertent whistle was blown during the play. Like this one, the NFL ruled that the incorrect call was made.