Giants vs. Cardinals Controversy: Referee Jerome Boger Decides the Game

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2011

Don't get me wrong from the title of this article—up until that fateful moment in the fourth quarter of New York's 31-27 victory Sunday night, both the Giants and the Cardinals were deserving winners of this game.

The reasons for both sides come pouring out: The Cardinals played with a great intensity on defense and their offense played much better than the past few weeks.

The Giants showed great resolve in coming back from a couple 10-point deficits, got a few big stops and played pretty well on offense against a hyped up Cardinals defense.

That's what makes referee Jerome Boger's ruling that Victor Cruz "gave himself up" all the more heinous—he spoiled a great game that deserved a true winner, not one judged on such a dubious call.

See the video at the right. Trailing 27-24 with 2:30 left in the game, Eli Manning hit his favorite new receiver, Victor Cruz, over the middle of the field.

As Cruz went to the ground untouched, a few Cardinals defensive backs gathered around the receiver.

Before any defender touched Cruz, he let go of the ball, leading to one Cardinal picking it up.

After this exchange, a Giant receiver down the field threw his arms up in disgust at the bone-headed play of his teammate. When the Giants saw the line judge running in to rule the receiver down, they rushed up to the line to get the next play off before Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt had time to throw the challenge flag.  They came darn close, too, having Bradshaw running right as Whisenhunt's flag was on the field.

Of course, the play was deemed "not able to be challenged" by referee Jerome Boger since the receiver was ruled to have "given himself up."

The Giants went on to win the game from this position.

Before you get on me about the Cardinals still having a chance to stop the Giants after that and having time to win it after that, remember the Giants had no timeouts. If the play were ruled correctly, then the Cardinals would have taken over with about 2:30 left. This means that, at best, the Giants would have taken over possession with 30 seconds left, a position in which teams rarely win.

Now, let's look at the play a little more in-depth.

There's the take of former Vice President of Officiating and Fox analyst Mike Pereira. He claimed on-air at the time and via Twitter that the play should have been a fumble because, instead of giving himself up, Cruz stumbled to the ground.

But I have a problem: Looking through the official NFL rulebook, I cannot find a rule stating "giving yourself up" is a term that applies to any player other than the quarterback. (That's college, not NFL!)

I am sure there is one somewhere, mostly because I trust Mike Pereira's knowledge of the rulebook. My problem is that I think the rule, no matter how it is worded, must be completely ridiculous.

Why do I think this? Because imagine that the same events unfolded up until Cruz letting go of the ball, but he then stood up and ran into the end zone. From every other play that has ever unfolded in this way, we can infer that the play would have been ruled a touchdown.

Hence, by this rule, it is ruled differently based on if the offense or defense follows the rest of the play.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the league. I mean, with the extremely pro-offense rules that have recently been implemented, one would probably have expected a 15-yard penalty on the play for breathing on the receiver while he was on the ground.

Like I said before, this was a great game. Both teams deserved to win. The Giants deserved to win.

Just not like this. The Giants didn't win. The Cardinals didn't lose.

By implementing a ridiculous rule in a place where it shouldn't even have been implemented, Jerome Boger won. We, the NFL viewers, lost. And it's a disgrace.

But should anyone be surprised from a referee who is most known for the refereeing gem in the second video to the right and the picture above?