FOX43 Sports Poll: What was the worst blown call in sports?

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People are still reeling from ‘Envelopegate’ from the Oscars.

While some are trying to regroup and figure out how they will ever trust an awards’ show announcement again, others are contemplating how the situation could’ve been fumbled in the first place.

Translating the Oscars to the playing field, there are blown calls regularly. Some have more impact on the game than others, but each can be memorable for its own reasons.

On the heels of ‘Envelopegate’, we’ve decided to delve into what the worst blown calls in sports have been.

  1. (2010) Umpire Jim Joyce calls Jason Donald safe at first base, negating Armando Galarraga’s perfect game

You can judge the play for yourself. On a dribbled ground ball to first base, Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera flipped the ball to P Armando Galarraga, who was covering first on the play. Galarraga’s foot tagging the bag beat Donald’s foot by at least a step, but Joyce had made his call and had no evidence in which to overturn it (one of the possible reasons that MLB instituted replay reviews). While this play itself may not have had a huge impact on the standings, as the Tigers still won the game, it took a huge accomplishment from Galarraga. Only 23 players in MLB history have thrown a perfect game, meaning Galarraga had a chance to be among some of the greatest pitchers in the game’s history.

Instead, Galarraga will be remembered for an umpire’s blown call taking away his career’s best accomplishment. Fortunately, Joyce recognized his mistake and made a public apology to Galarraga, who was able to forgive the former umpire and move on. Unfortunately for Galarraga, his career went downhill after 2010, as he only ended up pitching two more seasons in the big leagues.

2. (2012) Referees rule a Seattle TD on final play Hail Mary on Monday Night Football

Replacement referees had their time in the NFL, making 2012 one of the most highly scrutinized year of football on record. However, on one of the game’s biggest stages, these referees really bundled a call.

The Seattle Seahawks trailed by five and were forced to launch a Hail Mary on the last play of the game. After an obvious missed pass interference call, Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, and Packers defender, M. D. Jennings, got their hands on the ball while both players were still in the air and attempting to gain possession. The two officials near the play initially gave separate signals of touchdown and touchback, before ruling the players had simultaneous possession, resulting in a Seahawks game-winning touchdown.

After the game was over, the NFL acknowledged that there should have been a pass interference call on Tate, who shoved a Packers’ defender out of the way before going up for the catch. Had the call been made, it would have negated a touchdown and given the Seahawks the victory. In the NFL, every victory is precious, and Seattle and Green Bay are annual favorites in the NFC, making this one burn just a bit more.

3. (2002) The “Tuck Rule” Game institutes a new NFL rule

This game is so controversial it was named by the rule it helped make famous.

During an AFC Divisional playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots, Raiders’ safety Charles Woodson sacked Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, which in turn, initially appeared to cause a fumble that was eventually recovered by the Raiders. At the point of the game, the recovery would have been huge, as it would have likely sealed the outcome.

Officials put the play under review but decided that even though Brady had seemingly halted his passing motion and was attempting to “tuck” the ball back into his body, it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble under the NFL rules of that time.

Of course, this led the Patriots to hold on to possession, and allowed the team to force the game into overtime before winning on an Adam Vinatieri kick. Following that, the Patriots went on to win their first Super Bowl, the first of three in four years.

Despite the controversy surrounding the rule, it lived on until 2013, when teams voted 29-1 to abolish the rule.

4. (1998) Referee Phil Luckett says Jerome Bettis called “heads” not “tails” during coin toss

In one of the more memorable flops, an overtime game on Thanksgiving between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions hinged on who got possession to begin the game’s final period.

When Luckett tosses the coin in the air, he asks for Steelers’ RB Jerome Bettis’ choice, which is tails. Despite Bettis saying ‘tails’, Luckett says he calls ‘heads’, and gives possession to the Detroit.

Of course, the Lions took possession and drove downfield to secure a 19-16 win, and sealing the moment as one of the most memorable in NFL history.


Each of these calls was different and had impact in its own way.

Our question is which of the above plays yielded the worst call?