September 25, 2012

NFL replacement refs are a serious problem

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

I was going to write a post on Monday morning after what happened with the replacement referees in Baltimore-New England prime-time game, but now I’m glad I didn’t.

The end to Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks was an absolute travesty.

The game – like many this past weekend – was marred by holding calls and pass interference flags. That should have come as no surprise.

The game only really got nutty when it really mattered, as the Seahawks were driving late in the fourth quarter, down 12-7 and in obvious need of a touchdown.

The first god-awful call was a pass-interference call that went against the wrong team. On a lobbed ball from Russell Wilson, a Packers defender had a better position on the ball than the Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice. So, what did Rice do? He wrapped his arm around the cornerback Sam Shields and then grabbed his face mask from behind with his other hand. Somehow, this was construed as defensive pass interference, not the other way around.

Then, on the final play of the game, we saw the single worst call in the NFL perhaps ever. On a Hail Mary attempt, Packers safety M.D. Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate – among many others – went up for the ball and both seemingly came down with it. Only that didn’t really happen. No, Jennings caught the ball with both hands against his chest and Tate could only get one hand on it.

The two refs standing by ran up to the situation, gave each other a look and exchanged a few words. Then one signalled the play was dead while the other called touchdown.


Even after a review that should have surely shown that the ball was in fact intercepted, the play stood and the Packers were robbed.

Oh, and all of this happened after Tate shoved a Packers defender to the ground and wasn’t called for pass interference. That makes sense, right?

The funniest part was seeing some of the Packers have to come out from the locker room to defend a meaningless, but somehow essential extra point. That must have been awkward.

And all of this happened the day after one of the worst refereed games I’ve ever watched, being that Patriots-Ravens. I’m not sure how a call on a game-deciding field goal cannot be looked at. From at least one angle, it looked like Justin Tucker’s attempt flew close enough to straight above the goal post that it at least warranted a look. Heck, I’m not even sure what the rule is for a ball going straight over the post.

But the point is that the game is looking terrible, and we’ve now seen at least one game actually come down to a replacement official’s call.

We even saw a player get seriously hurt, perhaps because the replacement refs aren’t doing their jobs.

Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was levelled by two Steelers in the end zone – one hit was helmet-to-helmet. The result was that the Raider was knocked unconscious and had to be carted off the field. He suffered a severe concussion and a sprained neck and spent a night in the hospital. Oh, and even though it was a helmet-to-helmet hit, there was no flag on the play.

It’s time to give the real refs whatever they want, or the NFL is going to have to brace for some of the worst flak it has ever seen over an officiating issue.

This week: 8-8
This season: 22-24-2

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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