Tampa Bay gets a huge break after officials overturn a Titans TD.
By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 15, 2001
NASHVILLE, TENN. -- It was one of the more bizarre moments in Sunday's loss and it gave the Bucs enough of a reprieve to send the game into overtime.
Leading 17-14 early in the fourth quarter, Titans quarterback Steve McNair completed what seemed to be a 26-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kevin Dyson down the left sideline.
As the Titans lined up to kick the extra point, there appeared to be confusion on the Bucs bench about challenging the touchdown.
Coach Tony Dungy said he was staring at head referee Dick Hantak and motioning that he, Dungy, was pressing a button attached to his belt that alerts officials when a call is challenged.
As the kick was made, the Bucs apparently called timeout and Dungy informed Hantak that the Bucs were challenging the call. Dungy never threw the red flag, the backup plan when the button is malfunctioning or the official doesn't respond to it. "I'm pressing the button and Dick is looking at me, but he wants me to throw the flag," Dungy said. "So we had a little misunderstanding. I'm pushing the button. I guess I probably should have (thrown the flag)."
Upon review, officials ruled that Dyson, who was closely guarded by cornerback Brian Kelly, touched the end zone pylon as he caught the ball, making him out of bounds.
"When we reviewed the play on the monitor it showed the receiver's left foot touching the pylon," Hantak said. "He caught the ball prior to re-establishing himself in the field of play."
The play was reversed and the Titans had to settle for a 45-yard Joe Nedney field goal. Titans coach Jeff Fisher was upset that officials allowed the challenge to come during the timeout and not charge the Bucs a timeout.
"I know I was correct in my opinion of what took place in the process," Fisher said. "I got very upset when (Hantak) did not charge him a timeout."
The Bucs were later charged the timeout they had called before the extra point. Kelly, whose coverage forced Dyson out of bounds, said he was surprised at how long it took the Bucs to challenge the play.
"I rode the man out of bounds and thought it was a pass-interference call and we couldn't challenge that," Kelly said. "But his foot hit the pylon and everybody saw it. I'm glad Coach Dungy finally challenged it and it worked out to our advantage."
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