PJ Walker and DJ Moore connected on the touchdown of the season on Sunday when Walker hit Moore in the end zone for a 62-yard bomb with 12 seconds remaining in regulation. The touchdown tied the game at 34, but Moore was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for removing his helmet during the celebration, and the Panthers missed the extra-long extra point attempt before losing in overtime.
Just about everyone hates that penalty call in that situation, but those are the rules. Moore took his hat off to celebrate and drew an obvious penalty. Or was it!? NBC's Tony Dungy noted that Moore was technically off the field when he removed his helmet. Is that even against the rules? Dungy says that according to NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay, it is not!
Wow. The Panthers obviously got screwed! Why isn't this a bigger story?
Maybe because Moore walked right back into the end zone without his helmet on about four seconds after Dungy's screengrab. Fellow Panthers wide receiver Stephen Sullivan has also removed his helmet at this point.
So unless the very literal interpretation of the NFL rule is that you can step off the field and remove your helmet to celebrate and then step back onto the field and everything is totes cool, this is exactly what the rule says you cannot do. It's kind of surprising that Dungy would go by this one blurry image and that NBC's own expert would just agree and basically throw officials under the bus when he was one for nearly two decades. Officials take enough crap for the calls they do miss. For people in Dungy and McAulay's positions to make things more difficult is just a weird choice.