Panthers Screwed by Missed Fake Spike Call vs. Browns

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Baker Mayfield fell short in his alleged revenge game vs. the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. Mayfield's Carolina Panthers started slow, but made a big comeback in the second half and even took a one-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the fourth. The Browns marched down the field and gained enough yards to line up for a 58-yard field goal with seconds to go in regulation. Rookie kicker Cade York absolutely drilled it for the win.

However, the Browns should not have had that opportunity. They only did because of a complete screw-up by the officials.

Here's what happened: with 13 seconds left, the Browns ran up to the line of scrimmage at the Panthers' 39 yard-line. Cleveland had no timeouts. So Jacoby Brissett snapped the ball and everybody expected him to spike it in order to stop the clock and give the Browns time to set up for the field goal. Instead, Brissett appeared to fake the spike, looked around, then actually spiked it. It's unclear if he faked it because he wanted to see if Cleveland could catch the Panthers sleeping or if it was actually a mistake, but either way, he faked the spike then spiked it.

That should have been intentional grounding, which is why flags appeared all over the place once Brissett finally spiked it. But the officials blew the call and said Brissett was allowed to fake the spike then spike it without further penalty, which is not, in fact, true.

Missed penalties happen all the time but it's much worse when the penalties are missed due to rule book ignorance instead of just not seeing something. Incompetence on display here. The Browns should've been flagged for intentional grounding, suffering a loss of down and a 10-second run-off. That would have left them three seconds on the clock, and no timeouts to either get into field goal range or score a touchdown. Instead, the officials basically gave the Browns the chance to kick that field goal and they capitalized.

Now, obviously the Panthers cannot blame this one sequence for the loss. A thousand different things could've gone differently that would have led to a win instead of a loss. But on a game-deciding play like that, to have the refs screw up ... that's tough to swallow.