Did Chris Godwin commit OPI on key catch? Cowboys, Buccaneers weigh in on controversy

TAMPA — Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis trailed Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin down the left sideline. Godwin pinned Lewis with his left arm, Lewis aiming to maintain his own balance by grabbing Godwin with his right. Then a dart from Tom Brady arrived at the 18-yard line, Godwin pivoting his frame to welcome it as Lewis tumbled backward onto the field.

A push? Offensive pass interference? Anything flag-worthy about the contact exchanged on the 24-yard reception that set up the Buccaneers’ game-winning field goal?

“That’s Chris,” Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said after Tampa Bay’s 31-29 win. “He’s gonna fight for every inch and sometimes, you know he got a good lick on him. But he’s going to bounce right back and make that big play.”

Godwin said he wasn’t worried.

“No, no, no,” emphasized the receiver after catching nine of 14 targets for 105 yards, a touchdown and a fumble. “Never worry about offensive pass interference. Just try to go out there and make a play.

“I think it was a little hand-fighting on both parts. He had some good coverage, it was a great pass and I tried to make a play for my team.”

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The Cowboys chose not to make excuses after the play set up Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop’s game-wining 36-yard field goal. Contact rules in the league are hazy, involvement from officials sometimes frowned upon and Dallas players were well aware of the litany other mistakes they could have flipped into a game-winning edge. A leaky defense, three missed kicks and drops from wide receiver CeeDee Lamb were among the most damning Dallas weaknesses.

“We always talk about it: we can’t put it in the refs’ hands,” Lewis said. “It’s a toss-up. We played a hell of a game (but) at the end of the day, we can’t have the refs in the game like that.”

Lewis conceded that momentum from Godwin’s exchange likely contributed to his fall. But “I can’t call it like that,” he added. “That’s what the refs saw: a no-call.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy didn’t challenge the call, saying he didn’t have a “good look at it” but also philosophically prefers laissez-faire ends to games.

“When it comes down to the tight plays in a game, if it’s ticky-tack, you’re better (letting it go),” McCarthy said. “I would have taken the call. I wouldn’t have asked them to pick the flag up. But holding penalties and things in clutch times, I think it has to be a real foul there.

“It’s football.”

Godwin celebrated the catch after fumbling at the 2-yard line minutes earlier.

“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to redeem myself,” he said.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Godwin OPI? Cowboys, Buccaneers open up on late-game controversy

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