Replacement Refs: 5 Of Week 3′s Worst Calls
5 Of The Worst Calls By The Replacement Refs In Week 3
Week 3 of the NFL season fittingly came to an end when the replacement referees literally gave a win to the Seattle Seahawks on a blown call, effectively putting the cherry on top of yet another long weekend of blown calls and horrendous officiating.
The debate over the NFL and their replacement refs has been a hot topic since the first game kicked off the new season. The normal referees and the NFL cannot come to an agreement in their contract negotiations, so the league has trotted out these replacements, and unfortunately, they just are not capable of officiating at this level. They may be trying their best, but it is not working. They cannot seem to keep up with the speed of the game, appear to be folding under the pressure of coaches, players, and crowds, and the worst is, they are not making correct calls, on the field, or under the booth.
The arguments against the refs are everywhere, and nearly all can be backed up by substantiating evidence. Those taking up for the NFL, and the replacements, have been saying the refs haven’t been too bad, and their calls are not changing the outcome of the game. It makes you wonder what games these people are watching because it cannot be the ones the rest of us are seeing.
The frequency with which we are witnessing the bad/missed calls is alarming, and the numbers are growing. Here are just five from this week’s action. All five should be seen as a number one bad/missed call, simply because no professional referee should be this lousy at maintaining the integrity of the game.
Please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts, or add some of your favorite/most hated blown calls of the year!
Anthony Fasano Diving Catch
With 2:29 left in the third quarter the Dolphins were driving and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws a pass to tight end Anthony Fasano. The ball is to the outside and a bit high due to the coverage, but Fasano goes up and gets it, gets both of his heels down in bounds as he goes down on his back, aided by Jets defensive back Kyle Wilson, who was draped all over him trying to knock the ball loose as they go down.
The pass was ruled a catch on the field and Jets Coach Rex Ryan throws his red flag, challenging the ruling of a catch.
As the replay is shown, it becomes clear that ass they went to the ground the ball touches the ground, which would be fine, except that it moves in Fasano’s hands, clearly making it an incomplete pass. The referee came out from under the hood and surprised everyone by upholding the call on the field and awarding the Dolphins the ball on the Jets 2 yard line. Two plays later, the Dolphins were in the end zone.
Unfortunately for ‘Phins fans, such as myself, the Dolphins refused the help, both from the Jets, and the referees, forcing New York to take the win and go home.
What is special about this play is the use of the replay to be absolutely certain it was an incomplete pass, and then coming out and calling it a clean catch. It makes no sense when everyone in the crowd, on the sideline, in the booth, and watching at home can see what has happened, but the guy who has all the pressure on him to get it right, instead gets it so wrong.
Drew Brees Sacked For A "Safety"
I don’t know what the record for reversed calls in a game is, but I would not be surprised if it were 5. 5 calls on the field, each reversed upon further review, which is exactly how many reversals there were when the Kansas City Chiefs came to the Superdome to play the New Orleans Saints.
The 5 plays that were reversed weren’t even the worst of the plays called wrong or flat out missed. One play in particular sticks out as a true blunder, one that should have been reversed, but instead put points on the board for the Chiefs, gave them back the ball on a short field, and may have cost the Saints the game.
With 5:40 left in the 4th quarter, the Saints were on their own 7. Lining up in shot gun is no help as the pocket collapses as soon as the ball is hiked and Drew Brees is swarmed in the end zone by Kansas City’s Justin Houston, and the replacement ref calls the play a safety.
All scoring plays are automatically reviewed, and the Replay Assistant challenges the official’s call, sending them under the hood for verification. As the replays are being shown, it becomes clear that as the pass rusher was taking Brees down, the savvy vet rolled through the sack, staying on top of Houston’s body, and never touched the ground while in the end zone. Brees is obviously aware of this, as he stretches the ball out across the goal line, and gets up after the end of the play ready to line up at the 1.
Despite there being no visual evidence to confirm the call on the field, and no auditory evidence to say the play was called dead before Brees was out of the end zone, the call is upheld, giving the Chiefs 2 points and the ball back. The Saints lose by a field goal in overtime.
Jim Harbaugh Takes Back Final Timeout
Going into Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers were considered the overall team to beat in the entire NFL. So that is what the Minnesota Vikings did, despite the replacement refs giving ‘9ers coach Jim Harbaugh every chance they could to win the game. The most notable miscue was near the end of the game with the Vikings up by 11, with the ball, and in 49ers territory. Vikings running back Toby Gerhart runs for no gain and the play is whistled dead, and Harbaugh calls his 3rd and final timeout.
During the time out, Harbaugh called the refs over and what ensued seems as though it just couldn’t have happened, but yet, somehow it did...Harbaugh challenges the last play, saying that Gerhart fumbled the ball at the end of the run. Watching the replay, you can see that Gerhart does lose the ball and that it is clearly recovered by Patric Willis (although there is some speculation that the ref was signaling the play dead just before the ball came out, but there is enough here just to let that one go...).
The replacement ref comes out after the review and reverses the call on the field, giving the 49ers the ball back and giving them back the timeout they did not have in the first place. To make things even sweeter, Harbaugh use that timeout that shouldn’t be (or have been) to challenge yet another Gerhart fumble!
To make this even more incredible, here is the official’s side of the story via ESPN’s NFC North Blog:
Roan said Harbaugh called him to the sideline and said: "Hey, this is something that I want to challenge, but I just used my last timeout. Can I challenge and get my timeout back? How does that work?' "He asked the guys on the side and they came over and got me," Roan added. "What I told him was, 'Well you challenged it not knowing what the result of the play was going to be.' So I granted him the challenge and we went and looked at it. That was wrong. I should not have. In order to do that, he has to have two timeouts left."
There are so many things wrong here, it is hard to even focus on one. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind as to whether Harbaugh new what the rules were concerning his last time out and the challenge. Something Roan continues to demonstrate he has no clue about as he says the 49ers coach needed two timeouts to be able to call a challenge in the first place.
I am truly shaking my head.
Heyward-Bey Carried Off on a Stretcher
The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known to hit hard on defense and are likely responsible for half of the rules that are now in place to protect the wide receivers and quarterback from taking devastating hits. These rules can be frustrating at times, because it leaves a team’s defense at a disadvantage, with offenses seeming to get just as many first downs via the flag, as they are by advancing the ball down the field.
There are those moments though when you see a hit so spectacular that it erases all of the doubts about the validity of the new rules. These moments are usually gruesome to watch, and end with a player, or two, being carted off of the field amid a chorus of cheers from the hopeful crowds and anxious teammates.
Such was the case when the Oakland Raiders hosted the Steelers on Sunday, and found themselves down by 10 at the start of the 4th quarter and inside the Pittsburgh red zone.
Carson Palmer drops back to throw and lets it fly down the center of the field to Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone. It looked as though Heyward-Bey would have an easy touchdown until Ryan Mundy comes from the opposite side and lays H-B out.
Mundy launches himself at the Raiders receiver, who is in mid-air and looks like the poster child for defenseless player. The Steelers safety drives the crown of his helmet into Heyward-Bey’s face mask, knocking the wide receiver out cold before he even hit the ground, which is where he stayed for 11 full minutes as the Raiders medical staff tried stabilize the unconscious player.
Throughout it all, there was not one yellow flag.
Looking at the replays, it is unbelievable that this was not called the second it happened. There is an official standing in the back of the end zone, not even 6 feet away from where the hit takes place. He even signals incomplete as he stands oblivious to the fact the Raiders receiver has just been taken out of the game.
After a lengthy delay, Heyward-Bey was taken off of the field on a gurney and was able to raise his arm to the crowd in an attempt to give the thumbs up. The Raiders went on to win the game, and H-B is recovering from a concussion and is still being tested for any further damage.
The safety of the players can truly be guaranteed, not as long as men this big are crashing into each other at full speed, but the rules about leading with the helmet, hitting a defenseless player, and helmet to helmet contact are all in place to help keep the players on the field and out of the hospital. Mundy was guilty of all three, and not a single replacement ref caught any of it.
Packers Interception For A Touchdown
There was never any doubt which blown call would be the number one, was there?
The Green Bay Packers go into Seattle and gut out a very physical game in which the reigning MVP of the league is sacked 8 times, and are leading 12-7 as the game is coming to its end. The Seattle Seahawks have the ball and after a couple of key completions by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, they are in position to take a last ditch shot to the end zone.
He heaves the ball from the 40 yard line and it disappears into a mass of players. Two replacements come rushing in, and after a moment, they both give opposite signals, one saying touchdown, and the other interception.
The refs officially call it a touchdown, and as it its being reviewed, it becomes clear that the ball is intercepted by the Packers M.D. Jennings, yet because possession cannot be reviewed, the play stands as called, and the Packers are robbed of a win.
With Green Bay now 1-2, the outcome of a game has been undoubtedly decided by the replacements incompetence, and it could have an affect on the playoff picture in the NFC. The fall out has been harsh, with players and fans turning to social media outlets to voice their displeasure.
Whether this will be the final wake up call to the NFL or not remains to be seen. The NFL has sat by and watched as the first two weeks were marred by poor officiating, and nothing in those two weeks caused them to ease up on their position. There is a good chance this won’t change their minds either.
It is unfortunate to see the game of football disgraced in such a way, but unfortunately, this is how it is going to be until either the regular refs decide they will settle for the benefits package the owners are offering, or until hell freezes over, because the NFL seems to be in no hurry to “fix” their product. Why should they? As ugly as it is, no one has turned away.