TAMPA — The NFL has informed the Bucs that the pass-interference penalty against TE Kellen Winslow that nullified a fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday against the Lions should not have been called.
On third and goal, Winslow was engaged with C.C. Brown before breaking free from the safety in time to make a 2-yard touchdown catch.
But Winslow was penalized, and the Bucs were forced to settle for a tying field goal before losing 23-20 in overtime.
"They apologized," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "We've had a number of those this year. It's real discouraging. We've played some tight games, but you can't have those kinds of mistakes. It's disappointing, obviously. Now, it wasn't the only play in the game, but it was a critical one at a critical time."
The review by the league's officials buttresses the opinion of Mike Pereira, the former vice president of officiating for the NFL and current Fox analyst.
"The defender played into Winslow, and at that point, both were holding onto each other and no advantage was being gained one way or another," Pereira wrote on Foxsports.com. "If anything, it almost seemed like the defender was more responsible since he initiated the contact. In plays like this, I feel it is best not to make a call at all."
Coach Raheem Morris would not comment directly on the review.
"It's Christmas, and I just bought a bunch of people gifts," Morris said. "I like to keep my money (and avoid fines for criticizing officials) so I can provide gifts for my lovely staff.
"I did see the old director of officiating had a comment, so you can just read his article and take out of that the context. I guess that's legal, so you can read his. Me? I'm going to give you a nice no comment."
BALL SECURITY NO. 1: The Bucs say one reason RB LeGarrette Blount wasn't used in the red zone on their final possession was coaches were looking for ball security.
To that end, Cadillac Williams, who has lost eight fumbles in six seasons, was used on consecutive runs rather than Blount, who ran for 110 yards.
Blount said Wednesday that he doesn't take offense. In fact, he said he is working to make himself more sure-handed. He said his problems stem mostly from not being as aware when in the open as at the line of scrimmage.
"After the initial contact and getting into some open field, I tend to not carry it as cautiously as I was when I'm in traffic," Blount said. "That's an area I have to improve on."
How does one do that?
"Drills," Blount said. "When I run the football, I have the defense grab at it and swipe at it and make sure they can't get it out."
Blount's last fumble, Dec. 12 against Washington and fresh in the coaches' minds on Sunday, came after he broke tackles at the line and began rumbling down the field. CB DeAngelo Hall poked the ball out from behind, and the Redskins recovered.
RECORD ROOKIES: It would be hard to name the Bucs' rookie of the year. Tampa Bay has started 10 first-year players. But the choice would have to be between Blount and WR Mike Williams.
Blount and Williams could make the Bucs the first team since the 1968 Bengals (TE Bob Trumpy and RB Paul Robinson) to have the top rookies in rushing and receiving.
Blount has rushed for 777 yards and six touchdowns on 164 carries (4.7-yard average). He's 94 yards ahead of second-place Chris Ivory of the Saints.
Williams has 58 catches for 880 yards (15.2-yard average) and eight touchdowns (breaking Michael Clayton's club rookie record of seven set in 2004). Lions RB Jahvid Best is second in catches with 51, and Bengals WR Jordan Shipley is second in yards with 583.
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.