TEMPE, Ariz. — For a good stretch there, it seemed as if the Arizona Cardinals could not catch a break with NFL officials.
Sure, some calls went their way, but the high-profile rulings — the ones that had game-changing potential — rarely seemed to benefit those in red.
Whether it was what happened late in the loss at Philadelphia or in the waning moments of the overtime win in Tennessee, much was made of the team’s seeming inability to get calls.
Sunday, in Seattle, that seemed to change.
Early in the fourth quarter, Seattle lost a challenge asserting that Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled during a run. The ruling on the field was upheld, and Jay Feely made good on a 26-yard field goal two plays later, extending the team’s lead to 9-3.
Later in the period, after the Cardinals re-took the lead, the Seahawks’ final drive ended when Russell Wilson’s pass was ruled to have bounced off Doug Baldwin’s bicep before falling into the diving hands of Karlos Dansby.
“That was exciting,” Dansby said Monday. “Because the last couple of weeks have been rough on us. For us to come out on the winning side of that, of some of those calls, is gratifying.”
After the game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said different refs saw different things, but that they chose to go with the one who said the ball never hit the ground.
“You really look at it differently because it was called a catch on the field, so whether it hit his arm or not I don’t know,” he said. “It kind of looked like it did, I couldn’t tell though. I don’t know.”
“I thought it hit the ground, but they reviewed it and it went the other way,” Wilson said.
It was ruled an interception on the field, and there was not enough evidence to overturn it. Replays were indeed inconclusive, though odds are whatever it was called on the field — an interception or an incomplete pass — would not have been overturned upon review.
So, it could be argued, the Cardinals caught a break with the initial ruling.
“I guess he’s pretty strong or something,” Dansby said of Baldwin. “He’s got a nice muscle, man, it hit the right spot. Pretty bounce. I appreciate it, I definitely appreciate it.”
But whether the ball hit Baldwin’s arm, the ground or both, the initial ruling was a timely reversal of fortune for a Cardinals team that has felt wronged by officials in recent weeks. Right or wrong call, the interception allowed the Cardinals to run out the clock and secure a big road victory.
“There is no way the ball hits the ground and bounces backward,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday. “It had to hit him. I’ve seen them hit feet, back of the head, everything, and bounce the other way too many times. It was nice to get one to bounce our way.
“I still was confident we were going to stop them, though.”