While TE Harrison Bryant got two hands on the ball, Watson either misread the coverage or overthrew the ball. While OT Jedrick Wills failed to block DE Alex Highsmith which led to the second defensive touchdown, Watson failed to secure the ball after being flushed from the pocket.
Two facemask penalties, several overthrown balls, holding on to the ball too long and taking too many sacks all fall on the feet of Watson.
From the NFL’s perspective, a bigger concern could be what happened after one of the facemask penalties when Watson pushed/moved a referee out of the way in the heat of yelling at a Steelers defender:
Deshaun Watson can’t push the ref like that pic.twitter.com/sbEdQkVwXH— Jordan Dajani (@JordanDajani) September 19, 2023
Generally, that act would lead to the ejection of the player. It is clear that Watson sees that it is an official and he clearly physically moves him out of the way forceable manner.
Pro Football Talk, not always the bastion of great journalism, noted that he asked about a possible suspension for Watson and it was not immediately denied as a possibility:
On the possibility of Deshaun Watson's two blatant face mask fouls and his shove of an official possibly resulting in a suspension, source says this: "All plays will be evaluated and assessed today."— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 19, 2023
While it wasn’t taken off the table right away, it is highly unlikely that the league would go to that level. Watson’s action was, obviously, observed by the official when it happened and nothing was called. It also wasn’t so egregious that the league would want to make a point to curtail the behavior in the future.
As expected, there will be no suspension:
“In the judgment of the officials, the contact did not rise to the level of a foul,” the NFL explained on Tuesday. “The officials are called upon to maintain order on the field, and sometimes while performing those duties, there is inadvertent contact between players and officials.”
The rule doesn’t have an “inadvertent contact” exception. however. If a player is shoving people in his immediate vicinity and inadvertently shoves an official, that’s still a violation.
Do you think Watson should be suspended for shoving the ref? (Not just because you are frustrated with his play on the field) Share your thoughts with others down in our comment section