Back in 2012, we could take in when replacement officials got it wrong. They were inexperienced, they were thrust into a role because of a lockout that they were not expecting and while there were some questionable decisions, at least it did not last too long.
That seems like forever away when you see the standard of officiating this season.
It has been pretty bad all year long but just to add to the very poor mistakes, last night the Green Bay Packers were awarded another chance at a late game Hail Mary pass after the officials called for a facemask penalty on the Detroit Lions defence after time expired.
Aaron Rodgers got another play and wouldn’t you know it, they scored. It was a huge win for them but a monumental blow for the Lions as the defender barely brushed the quarterback and it has killed any unlikely late run for the playoffs stone dead.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg on bad officiating calls this season. The Baltimore Ravens lost the game on a similar incident against the Jacksonville Jaguars when this time, the offence had a false start with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game.
That usually incurs a 10-second run-off, something that didn’t happen, which led to a facemask penalty on the final play which advanced the Jaguars into field goal range to win the game.
On another TV game on Monday night, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Lions thanks to KJ Wright knocking Calvin Johnson’s fumble out of the endzone, which is illegal and should have been a Lions first down.
However, the back judge claimed that he felt it was inadvertent, despite the cameras clearly telling a different story. Wright himself admitted that he did it on purpose after the game and the NFL also revealed that it should have been a penalty.
Another Thursday night game last week had controversy that luckily did not determine the final result of the game. The New England Patriots made a big play to Danny Amendola in the second quarter, he had beaten the corner and only had one man to beat for the touchdown.
Had a referee not inadvertently blown his whistle, killing the play dead. The officials then had to fumble around and award the pass to where the receiver caught it and the drive ended in a field goal.
The excuse was that the line judge had “lost track of the football”, which was absurd as it was in Tom Brady’s hands and visible to everyone as he was throwing it as he whistled. It also, technically, meant that it should have been spotted to where the initial play was, as Amendola hadn’t caught it before the whistle, but the officials needed to do something as they had pretty much prevented a touchdown.
But the cornerstone of the whole argument this season came in Sunday night’s fixture between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. In a tight game, there were so many missed calls or ghost calls that it became simply a joke of a game for both sides.
They called a first-and-five for the Cards as a 2nd-and-three for some reason but the real stinger was the roughing the passer call near the end of the game. The officials deemed that they hit the head of the quarterback, which the defender did not, it was just a strong play but with that penalty, the drive continued and Arizona went on to win.
To say that the standard has dropped this season is probably not harsh enough. These bad calls are costing points and in too many occasions, entire games and when one of these coaches loses their jobs because of their poor record, they can look back at things like this.
With the amount of replays available, and the absurd amount that can’t even be reviewed, it’s simply astonishing that the NFL doesn’t do something to fix this. They need to further educate their officials straight away, severely punish the groups that have been found wanting and reward those that have performed up to the high standard.
The issue now is that something needs to be done now. The playoffs start next month and if something similar happens then or, god forbid, the Super Bowl then there will be significant reproductions. Quite simply put, it has been nowhere near good enough.