Referees explain changing pass interference call that cost Giants

Losing games comes naturally for the Giants and it does not help them at all when they get a tough call in the closing seconds.

With 28 seconds remaining in Monday night’s 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers, the Giants tried to pull even on a two-point conversion try. Daniel Jones’s pass to Dion Lewis was broken up by cornerback Antoine Winfield, who clearly made contact with Lewis before the ball got to the receiver. Nathan Jones, the field judge, threw his flag for pass interference.

After an officials huddle, referee Brad Rogers announced there was no penalty on the play.

“I thought Nate made the right call when he threw the flag,’’ Giants head coach Joe Judge said. “I’m not sure why it got picked up. We had a pretty good view. I thought Nate made the right call the first time. Normally your first instinct is right. That’s all I’m going to say about the officiating.

“We got to put ourselves in position where we can have success and not bring a third party into the factor. It’s tough enough to beat the Bucs.’’

“The side judge had the flag thrown on the play and came to the down judge who was on that side of the goal line,’’ Rogers said. “The communication between the side judge and the down judge was that the defender contacted the receiver simultaneously as the ball came in. And in order to have defensive pass interference, it has to be clearly early and hinder the receiver’s ability to make the catch.

“You want to make sure that it meets the qualifications for pass interference. And in our communication on the field, the down judge and the side judge communicated about the action and believed that it was appropriate to pick that flag up.”

Asked if Jones could have made a quicker throw to Lewis, Judge again went back to the call that was ultimately not made.

“I think Dion had a chance to catch the ball, there’s just contact before the ball had a chance to get there for him to actually finish and complete the catch,’’ Judge said. “So it’s tough to make an assessment on a throw right there.’’

Jones said “I thought it was pass interference and I was surprised they picked it up. Tough break.’’

The Bucs did not see it that way.

“Antoine made a great play,’’ Tom Brady said. “It was a game-saving play for us.’’

Alfred Morris in 2012 terrorized the Giants en route to a sensational rookie season, as he rushed for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns for Washington. Eight years later, Morris got to suit up for the Giants.

Morris, 31, was elevated from the practice squad Monday night to off-set the loss of Devonta Freeman, who was out for the Giants’ 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium with an ankle injury. Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis were the only two healthy running backs on the roster available for the game. Morris shook off the rust with five first-half carries, gaining 18 yards, including an 11-yard run. Morris finished with eight carries for 28 yards. Morris appeared in only one game in 2019 with the Cardinals. He was with the 49ers and Cowboys after his four-year stay in Washington. The Giants also elevated guard Chad Slade and defensive back Montre Hartage from their practice squad. Slade provided depth behind rookie Shane Lemieux, who made his NFL debut as a starter, moving in at left guard for Will Hernandez, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and missed the first game of his NFL career.

Giants players on the sideline and bench area wore masks, a departure from previous games. In addition to Freeman, the Giants inactives were WR CJ Board, S Adrian Colbert, CB Ryan Lewis, OT Jackson Barton, TE Eric Tomlinson and DE RJ McIntosh. … CB Isaac Yiadom, benched earlier this season, returned to the starting lineup with Lewis out.

Tom Brady’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski in the third quarter moved the duo into the NFL’s No. 2 spot with 93 scoring connections, behind only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, who had 114 touchdown hookups. Brady and Gronkowski had been tied with Steve Young and Jerry Rice.

It figured that the Giants would struggle to run the ball, already down Saquon Barkley (on season-ending injured reserve) and also without Freeman (inactive with an ankle injury). This was a terrible matchup. The Buccaneers came in with the NFL’s top-rated run defense, allowing only 3.0 yards per attempt. For a full season, that would be the sixth-lowest average allowed in the Super Bowl era.

At least the Giants’ offensive line is battle-tested. In the first seven games, the Giants faced four of the five most prolific pass-rush teams in the league. The Giants lost to the Steelers (NFL-high 26 sacks), Rams (25 sacks) and Eagles (24) and beat Washington (22). In Week 8, the Giants fell to the Buccaneers, who went into the weekend with 25 sacks, the second-highest total in the league.

The Giants wore their retro all-white uniforms, with helmets that were emblazoned with “GIANTS’’ instead of the “NY’’ logo they usually wear. This is similar to the uniform the team donned from 1980-99, when they won their first two Super Bowls in that span.

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