The Houston Roughnecks are 5-0 following their 32-23 win over the Seattle Dragons on Saturday. However, an officiating gaffe ended the game prematurely — and in the process gave the XFL its first official controversy of the season.
Facing a fourth-and-23 in the final seconds of the game, Houston quarterback P.J. Walker took what would be the final snap by backing up few steps back before taking a knee. Officials ruled the game over and both teams walked on to the field. However, the game shouldn’t have been over. When Walker kneeled down on the ground, there were at least two, if not three seconds still on the clock, as the screenshot below shows.
Some of Seattle’s defensive players tried to plead their case, but officials ran off the field and the game was done. Even worse was the explanation for the botched ending by officiating supervisor Wes Booker. When pressed by ABC’s Steve Levy, Booker essentially acknowledged that there should have been two seconds left on the clock, but that the game was over.
The XFL released the following statement Saturday evening, noting that the game should not have ended as it did. Additionally, the league said that Booker had been “reassigned.”
Seattle absolutely should be livid as they would have gotten the ball around the 20-yard line. Odds may not have been great for the Dragons to score a touchdown on one play and then a three-point conversion to tie things up, but the possibility did exist. Or, rather, should have existed. As for Walker, he would have been far better off heaving the ball as high as he could out of bounds. That would have surely taken off the last few seconds.
One of the XFL’s great attributes is access, especially with instant replay. Whether you agree with the call on the field or not, the league does an exceptional job of peeling back the curtain and getting explanations from the replay booth. But that access works both ways. In this instance, it showed at point-blank range a level of incompetence that is absolutely inexcusable.