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Bruce Arians’ pass interference challenge pays off

Despite early numbers that say overturned calls are rare, Bucs coach gets reversal that leads to late touchdown.
Dolphins defensive back Tyler Patmon (8) was initially flagged for pass interference on Bucs receiver Justin Watson on this incomplete pass in the fourth quarter of Friday's preseason game. The flag was picked up, but Bucs coach Bruce Arians won his challenge after a review. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Aug. 17
Updated Aug. 17

TAMPA — Bruce Arians’ biggest gamble in the Bucs’ 16-14 preseason win over the Dolphins on Friday wasn’t a play call.

Instead, Arians — the coach who lives by a “no risk it, no biscuit” mantra — tested one of the NFL’s new rules.

With the score tied at 6 and the Bucs facing third and 8 at the Miami 28-yard line, quarterback Ryan Griffin threw a ball toward the end zone to Justin Watson, who was streaking down the sideline. After lots of contact between Watson and defensive back Tyler Patmon, Watson couldn’t come up with the catch, but a flag was thrown for defensive pass interference.

After the officials conferred, the flag was picked up, no penalty was called, and it was fourth down. Taking advantage of a new rule that allows pass interference calls and no-calls to be reviewed, Arians challenged.

The rule change follows a controversial pass interference no-call in last season’s Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game.

Following Friday’s review, the no-call was overturned, and instead of contemplating a 45-yard field-goal attempt, the Bucs were awarded first and goal at the Miami 4. On the next play, Griffin connected with tight end Tanner Hudson for Tampa Bay’s only touchdown.

If Arians had lost the challenge, he would have lost a timeout. That he didn’t ended up being valuable late in the fourth quarter as Griffin drove the Bucs down the field in the game’s final 34 seconds for what turned out to be the winning field goal.

Overturned calls have been rare in the early days of the new rule.

ESPN says 17 pass-interference-related calls were reviewed in the preseason’s opening week and just two were overturned.

For a call to be overturned, there must be clear video evidence that a player was impeded. Though opening pass-interference calls and no-calls to review allows the call to be overturned both ways, if review officials, for example, saw that Watson had committed a foul Friday, the Bucs could have been flagged.

Big day for Ogunbowale

Running back Dare Ogunbowale opened training camp fourth on the depth chart, but in two preseason games, he has made the most of his opportunities.

Ogunbowale on Friday totaled 88 offensive yards (34 rushing and 54 receiving). Early in the fourth quarter, Ogunbowale took a short pass 41 yards down the sideline before slipping at the 8.

“Obviously, he had the wrong shoes or he scores on the screen,” Arians said. “Then, he also (would have) scored on the one run where he falls down there on the 4. But he has made a real strong case.”

Ogunbowale has shined as a pass catcher, but he’s averaging only 2.9 yards per rush.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard

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