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Replay-reviewable plays bite Cardinals against Panthers

Things looked awfully familiar as the Arizona Cardinals returned to Carolina for the first time since their NFC Championship beatdown a year prior.

But they arguably got a sour deal from the officials in the 30-20 loss, at least on one reviewable play.

The Panthers got early pressure on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in the first quarter, and on one play, as tackle Star Lotulelei pulled Palmer to the ground, the signal-caller’s short flip-pass — or so it appeared — was ruled a fumble and returned by linebacker Thomas Davis for a touchdown

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians waited for the automatic review to overturn the scoring play, but it never came. That gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead just 3:12 into the game.

All scoring plays and all turnovers are to be reviewed by replay officials. But Arians told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Paul Calvisi afterward the officials said the replay booth official confirmed the initial call of a fumble and did not buzz down to the field.

“I thought it was a forward pass,” Arians said. “It was not reviewed by the referee (on the field).”

From the NFL’s rulebook for 2016:

Section 2 — Instant Replay

A Replay Review will be initiated by a Replay Official from a Replay Booth comparable to the location of the coaches’ booth or Press Box when the on-field ruling is:

a. a score for either team;
b. an interception;
c. a fumble or backward pass that is recovered by an opponent or goes out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone; or
d. a muffed scrimmage kick recovered by the kicking team;
e. after the two minute warning of each half; and
f. throughout any overtime period.

The result was Palmer’s seventh turnover in the last two games against Carolina.

Here’s another angle of the controversial play.

But that wasn’t the only reviewable play that burned Arizona against Carolina.

On a 3rd-and-11 play in the red zone in the first quarter, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton completed a pass to Greg Olsen at the sticks, but the tight end failed to get both feet down. Ruled a completion, Arizona didn’t challenge it and the Panthers went on to score a touchdown for a 21-0 lead.

Later in the first half, Arizona safety Tony Jefferson came down with a Newton deep ball to Olsen at the Carolina 2-yard line. Initially ruled an interception, replay reviews showed Jefferson stepping out of bounds and failing to reestablish himself before he made the pick. Officials correctly overturned their call.

The Panthers would kick a field goal to cap that drive for a 24-0 lead.

Arians finally threw a red flag in the second half when a receiver’s feet toed the field on a catch, but the Cardinals coach lost the challenge and a timeout.

Arizona finally ended up on the positive side of a review when Tony Jefferson ripped Panthers back Jonathan Stewart as he was going down to the ground, but Palmer, with the Cardinals trailing 30-20, immediately turned the ball back over with an interception and three minutes left in the game.

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