TORONTO — The Canadian Football League says the B.C. Lions’ 19-12 win over the Montreal Alouettes will stand despite the fact that mistakes were made by officials as the clock wound down Friday night.
While the errors were unintentional, commissioner Mark Cohon said the league’s “regret at this incident is deep and profound.”
The issue revolved around the game clock and officials on and off the field as Montreal was driving for a potentially tying touchdown in the final minute at B.C. Place.
Cohon says the game officials showed lack of communication and lack of judgment under pressure, but “not an intentional misinterpretation or misapplication of a playing rule.”
“A mistake, notwithstanding the severe effect it may have upon the outcome of a game, does not provide sufficient grounds for the commissioner to allow the protest and determine a remedy,” he said.
Cohon said the officials in question will not be disciplined. But the league is looking at ways to avoid a repeat of the problem.
“While we can never eliminate human error in the game of football, how it is played or how it is officiated, we are considering measures to ensure this particular set of circumstances is not repeated.”
The Lions scored a touchdown with 2:30 left to take the lead. Montreal responded by marching to the B.C. eight-yard line.
Facing a third and one, Montreal gambled. It was close whether the Als had gained the first down, but the officials said B.C. had called a timeout before the play started.
On the ensuing play, Als running back Avon Cobourne ran around the left side for an apparent touchdown, but there was a flag on the field. The officials said a whistle had been blown on the field after the stadium supervisor paged officials to stop the play in order to check the game clock to make sure the proper amount of time remained.
The clock was not changed and Montreal went to the line for a third time. This time Cobourne was stopped short and the ball was turned over to B.C. on downs. The Lions were then able to run out the clock for the win.
B.C. linebacker JoJuan Armour said some players on both sides pulled up on the touchdown, thinking the play had been blown dead.
The Als subsequently protested the loss.
Cohon ruled that three mistakes had been made on the negated TD run:
— The game supervisor sent an electronic page to the on-field officials too late for the matter to be addressed prior to the snap of the ball.
— The on-field officials failed to blow their whistles and indicate a dead ball immediately upon receiving the electronic page.
— The referee failed to accurately determine whether the whistles blown by the on-field officials were done so prior to the conclusion of the play.
“However, it is only the third error which negatively affected Montreal,” Cohon wrote. “It can be concluded that the third error may reasonably have affected the outcome of the game. If it had not occurred, the Montreal touchdown would have stood and the game would most likely have been tied with less than one minute remaining in regulation time.
“This is unfortunate, and extremely regrettable. However, despite the significant negative implications resulting from this error, it is my conclusion upon my thorough review that this error was not made by the referee intentionally. The referee believed at the time that a whistle had been blown by an on-field official prior to the conclusion of the play. He communicated this to the game supervisor and the instant replay official . . . and, based on this erroneous belief, made the decision to replay the play in question.
“This demonstrated a lack of clear communication between the game officials, and a lack of judgment, under pressure, but was not an intentional misinterpretation or misapplication of a playing rule.”