CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A frustrated Janoris Jenkins was asked what the Giants need to start winning games like Sunday’s 33-31 loss to the Panthers.
“We need better referees,” the cornerback said. “We need better referees, better calls.”
Several officiating decisions had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game. Two of the most critical came on Panthers scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
“I can take a loss,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. “To have a win stolen is a different type of feeling. The NFL has some explaining to do.”
On third-and-13 from the Carolina 41, Cam Newton threw a pass that appeared to be broken up by Landon Collins. Instead, the Giants were flagged for unnecessary roughness. The call on the field was against Collins, actually might have been against Michael Thomas and seemed to not warrant a flag in any case.
“I hit the ball first,” Collins said. “That’s all I remember, hitting the ball and somebody hit me in the back. I thought it was my player hitting me in the back, I look down, and it was [wide receiver Devin Funchess]. But I went for the ball, my eyes were on the ball, didn’t see the opposing player there. I don’t know what kind of call that was. That’s how they saw it. The call was bad. A bad call. Second week in a row we’ve gotten bad calls like that.”
It gave the Panthers a first down at the Giants’ 44 and extended a drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey with 11:21 left in the fourth to make it 27-16.
Collins said he did not ask the officials for an explanation. “There’s nothing the official had to say,” he said. “I know the rules.”
Later, when asked about the “helmet-to-helmet” call, Collins interrupted the question.
“Please don’t say helmet-to-helmet,” he said. “I did not touch his helmet. His helmet touched my back, all right? I touched the ball first . . . We’re fighting and trying to figure out how to play football. It’s not football anymore.”
The second call was on the game-winning drive. On third-and-1 from the 46 with 30 seconds remaining, the Panthers handed off to McCaffrey, who appeared to be stopped short of the first down. Had that been the case, the Panthers would have had to scramble to get their field-goal team on the field with no opportunity to stop the clock. Instead, they were given a first down, Newton spiked it to stop the clock with 11 seconds left and threw an incompletion that the Giants felt should have been intentional grounding. The Panthers kicked the winning 63-yard field goal with one second remaining.
“We’re out of control,” Pat Shurmur said of the Giants’ options. They could not challenge a play inside the two-minute warning and were out of timeouts to request a measurement or allow the booth to initiate a challenge on the spot.
“There’s really nothing you can do,” Shurmur said.
“They gave it to him for whatever reason,” Harrison said. “From where I was standing, I didn’t think it was a first down.”
Added Collins: “It should have been fourth-and-1 but they said it was a first down. We were looking like, 'When did it become first down?' They didn’t even spot the ball yet. From that point on, man . . . It wasn’t a first down.”
There were other calls, too, including a penalty on Kerry Wynn for roughing the passer and various other holding calls the Giants were upset about (B.W. Webb was so frustrated that he drew an unsportmanlike-conduct penalty for arguing after he was flagged for holding on a third-down stop in the third quarter).
This came a week after the Giants were frustrated by a horse-collar penalty against Jenkins and comments from linebacker Alec Ogletree who said the officials told him that certain calls would not have been made if the game was a Super Bowl.
“It’s just not right,” Collins said. “You just feel like you’re playing against two teams out there.”