Pharoh Cooper never said a word. He knew it wouldn't have mattered.
"I kind of just looked around, like 'Where was the flag?' " Cooper said while reliving Monday the final play of Sunday's game, in which Buccaneers hero Jamel Dean -- he of the interception of Kyler Murray to give the Bucs their game-winning possession -- looked like he grabbed Cooper's arm and pulled it down before the ball arrived on Murray's final-play heave. "(The officials) weren't going to change anything based on my reaction, but I didn't say anything to them."
In a game littered with their own missed chances, it still was interesting to note the final couple of crucial pass-interference possibilities. The big one came right before the Bucs' last touchdown, when Jalen Thompson stumbled and fell into the legs of Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans in the end zone. A flag wasn't thrown, but the NFL initiated a booth review given that it happened in the final two minutes of a game, and the NFL deemed a penalty had occurred.
It was a 12-yard penalty, but it set the Bucs up with first-and-goal at the 1 instead of 3rd-and-10 at the 13. Three plays later, they got a touchdown.
"Anyone who follows the league knows that hasn’t happened often," coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. "I think we’re the first one that has been booth-initiated and had a flag thrown like that. It’s challenging, but there were a bunch of plays we could’ve helped us win that game."
Going into the weekend's games, only nine of 63 pass-interference reviews had been overturned all season, and only two of the most recent 40. Bruce Arians challenged a PI call drawn by Larry Fitzgerald a little earlier in the game, to no avail. It wasn't that Thompson's play wasn't necessarily a foul. It was that it wasn't called, and anyone watching NFL football this season could probably find a number of examples of more egregious examples that were not originally called, challenged, and still not flagged. The inconsistency is what is troubling.
Nonetheless, the Cardinals moved on to their final drive. And when Dean grabs Cooper, you can even see in one replay GM Steve Keim looking for a flag that wasn't to come. It being the last play, no review was coming -- "Things happened pretty quickly," Kingsbury said -- but both Pro Football Talk and Sports Illustrated reported that the league indeed quickly took a look at the play and deemed it not enough to proceed to a full review.
Cooper was at the Tampa 20 when he was hit, a foul that had it been called would have easily put the Cardinals in place for one untimed down for a Zane Gonzalez field goal try when the Cards trailed by three.
"At the end of the day it should never come down to the last play, based how that game went," Cooper said. "It is frustrating that they didn't call that, maybe give us a chance to kick a field goal.
"It is what it is. You can't go back, you can't replay it."