Early in the third quarter, Washington had the ball just inside the 50-yard-line. Taylor Heinicke took the snap dropped way back in the pocket, rolled slightly to his left and unleashed a bomb down field.
On the other end of the pass, Curtis Samuel was caught in the middle of triple coverage and it did not look like he stood a chance at making the catch. But fortune fell in the Commanders’ favor.
While Minnesota safety Camryn Bynum converged on the ball to try and come down with the interception, a referee ran at him full-speed and laid him out. The official was trying his best to get out of the way but simply could not and ended up laying an accidental hit that stopped all momentum in its tracks.
Bynum — who was in front of Samuel and poised to make a play — fell down to the turf after making contact with the ref and was rendered completely useless. As a result, a small window opened up for Heinicke’s pass to fall perfectly into the out-stretched arms of his receiver.
Samuel made the catch while falling down in front of the goal line, got up, and scored.
The referee was not trying to cause problems and was apologetic after the play. Here’s another look at how it all went down:
Unfortunately for the Vikings, there was nothing more that could be done. There is no rule about any sort of accidental referee contact. There are no do-overs in the NFL.
Washington got to reap the benefits of the official’s unintentionally crucial defensive play. The play counted and the touchdown stood.