Lost In The Sauce: Horrible officiating obscured by Russell’s 2nd half
DeMarcus Davis, Staff Writer SBreport.net
Oakland, CA – The Vice President of NFL Officiating, Mike Pereira, will have his hands full trying to explain or justify the level of horrible on-field and booth reviewed rulings from this past week. Last week, there was the blantantly missed pass interference call in the endzone during Seahawks vs. 49ers game, the missed facemask penalty on Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward against Raiders’ cornerback Chris Johnson; where Ward pulled Johnson’s facemask to gain separation for a touchdown reception. Hines repeated the same patented move against a Cleveland Browns defender last Thursday night to gain a first down (which was also missed by the officials).
On another tangent altogether, there is the realm of the absurb. A world in which players can spike the ball in celeration of a touchdown in the direction of a player and NOT get called a penalty, but can get called for an unsportsmanlike penalty for spiking the ball (not in the direction of an opposing player) in self-disgust for not reaching the first down marker before getting tackled. Just ask Raider runningback Justin Fargas how he feels about THAT ruling. Or how about the double standard on touchdown celebrations. A guy can do the funky chicken, the bankhead bounce, the Beyonce Dance, or even have guys pretend they are Tracy McGrady by slam dunking the football over an imaginary Shawn Bradley over the goalpost despite it being a penalty for using the football as a prop in the celebration which last I checked was illegal. All these examples of endzone celebrations had gone unpenalized.
But where Bizzarro World comes into play is where an official can equally flag Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson for dropping to both knees with his arms outstretched to God after returning an interception for a touchdown against the Texans earlier in the year and flag Washington Redskins TE Fred Davis for making the universal “Cuckold” gesture after scoring a touchdown against the Raiders. You may ask, “What do these two examples have to do with one another?” They don’t…and that’s the point. By sheer example of how the celebrations were viewed by the ruling officials, these NFL officials see kneeling to praise God (or for that matter, praising the planet Jupiter if you’re an atheist) on par with giving the universal gesture of having sex with another man’s adulterous wife. Unbelievable!
Now, we have the matter of the Raiders’ home game versus the Washington Redskins. Up until the 2nd half, the Raiders were in the game, down 7 points at the end of the first half, and QB Bruce Gradkowski was on pace to register another 300 yard passing day despite coach Tom Cable quickly going away from utilizing RB Darren McFadden split out wide to get a favorable matchup against the starting safety LaRonn Landry. That is until the letter “m” and his two nefarious buddies “c” and “l” came to throw a wet blanket on the party. But even before then, the seeds of terrible officiating were being sown.
We begin with B.S. Call #1:
QB Bruce “Almighty” Gradkowski looked to have completed a 27-yard pass to WR Louis Murphy who (on VIDEO REPLAY) looked to have made a remarkable catch by going down to grab the low pass that was both behind him and off to the inside of the covering defender. Murphy goes down to secure the ball as the defender tries to wrestle the ball away from him. They both roll over and Murphy is the one who comes up with the ball. Ruling on the field was a catch and the Raiders have the ball now at the Redskins’ 23 yard line and poised to score. Now, since this occurred inside of the final 2-minutes of the half, the officials wanted to review the play (which I didn’t mind), but it should have been reviewed before the snap of the next play. I, as well as every other media member sitting in the pressbox saw the replays on the in-house monitors. They included what the fans saw on the jumbo-tron as well as all the views the covering television crew was replaying for the T.V. commentators. At no time was there a video showing the ball “clearly hitting” the ground and causing a reversal. However, the referee came back and said that upon further review, the ball had hit the ground and that it was incomplete. Now, I have no problem if the reception was aided by the ball hitting the ground (used to be called trapping), but that wasn’t what was explained. The problem is that what really happened was the ball touched the ground, but per NFL rules, the ball CAN touch the ground as long as the ground does not aide the receiver in securing the football. And what I saw on NFL Rewind, the ground never aided the catch. Even then, there was enough “gray” to allow the play to stand because the evidence was apparently not “indisputable.” The play resulted in the Raiders having to punt the ball away and taking potential points, which leads to…
B.S. Call #2:
On the ensuing punt after that officiating debacle, the Washington returner never called for a fair catch and successfully caught the ball, then was quickly hit on an exquisitely timed arm tackle by Raider Hiram Eugene. The judgment on the field was that Eugene interfered with the receiver’s opportunity to catch the ball, which on replay (and on naked eye) looked like a legal and well timed play. Still being inside of the final 2-minutes of the half, the officials decided NOT to review this call. It would appear that, this NFL crew anyway, elected when THEY wanted to review rather than going by some universal plan of officiating.
Raiders coaches, still infuriated by the fact they were penalized 15-yards for a legal and great play, was given and additional penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the Raiders’ bench. So, now instead of the Raiders forcing the Redskins to start their next drive on their own 10-yard line, the Redskins got the late Thanksgiving gift (or early Christmas gift) of starting on their own 40-yard line. Surely, the Raiders’ defense SHOULD have found a way to stop Washington regardless, but that is not the point. Football is a game of momentum and the Redskins had clearly stolen theirs and took advantage of it. That drive culminated in a touchdown to put Washington ahead 7-points (10-17) before the end of the first half. Raiders went from being on the Redskins’ 23-yard line and a potential 3 or 7 point lead, to being down 7 after all the “officiating” was done.
B.S. Call #3:
This was actually the unsportsmanlike penalty called on the Raider bench because an assistant coach had the audacity to call out that official for that blown call. I’ve seen the Mike Ditka’s, the Bill Parcels’, the Bill Cowher’s, and the Todd Haley’s of the NFL world and my soon-to-be shrunken head can’t recall any of those fiery coaches getting penalties for arguing with a ref. But I guess assistant coaches don’t get that blanket of protection for standing up to the incompetence (or at the very least the inconsistency) of NFL officiating.
B.S. Call #4:
On the Raiders’ next drive following that ill-fated Redskins touchdown, Bruce Gradkowski passes to WR Chaz Schilens in the flats. Chaz goes up, catches the ball, gets hit by one defender in mid-air, comes down with BOTH feet, then goes down and has BOTH his butt cheeks hit the ground and then lands on his back; all with the ball being securely nestled in his clutches. The moment after his back hits the ground, the trailing defender comes over and strafes Chaz while on the ground, thus causing the ball to become dislodged. One ref ruled Chaz being down by contact…then another ref comes in and the debate begins. Then, the play was ruled that the pass was incomplete because the “ball came loose” as the receiver was going to the ground.
Sub-B.S. #1a – The overriding call was wrong because the ball never came loose until he was on the ground and the 2nd defender hit hit while on the ground.
Sub-B.S. #2a – The overriding ref and the head Referee got the rules all wrong. The receiver was down by contact because the receiver had firm control of the ball, was contacted by defender #1 while in mid-air, and the receiver (while still having firm control of the ball) got both feet down and landed on his butt and back with no jostling of the football. By rule, that is down by contact since it was the hit by the 1st defender that caused the player to go down. Thus, it doesn’t matter what the 2nd defender does after the fact. The play should have been dead at the line of gain.
Sub-B.S. #3a – Since this is STILL inside of the final 2 minutes of the half, there should have been a booth review because when the 2nd defender came in to hit the receiver, the ball was dislodged and was recovered by the Redskins (even though no turnover call was made). Perhaps the officials were a bit skiddish to potentially review the ‘Skins after that reception/fumble against the ‘Skins last week against the Saints.
Once again, no booth review…even though it was warranted. I mean, why even have booth reviews in the last 2 minutes if the booth doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to overrule boneheaded rulings by one of it’s brethren? Isn’t the goal of the review to get things right? Instead, it was all wrong.
B.S. Call #5
As if the Raiders needed any more “help” by the officiating crew (the bad O-line and Quarterback play in the second half was bad enough), the officiating crew called Raider corner back Stanford Routt with a pass interference penalty at the 14:55 minute mark in the 4th quarter. The embarrassing part on behalf of the officials is that the receiver simply fell down on his own with not even a touch from Routt. It wasn’t even close. Maybe some of the rain that afternoon was still in the eyes of the back judge or perhaps he got the wrong prescription of contact lenses that caused object to appear closer than they really are or maybe he is simply on a long waiting list for cataract surgery. Routt even went as far as to hold his hands away from the receiver as the receiver was running his route.
There were two fouls on the play; both on the defense. One was that BADLY called PI and the other was for defensive holding on Raiders LB Thomas Howard. The difference being that the holding is a 5-yard penalty and an automatic first down. The PI being a spot foul resulted in a 15-yard penalty and the first down.
In a nutshell, 5 B.S. calls lead by the 5 Blind Mice whose bush-league efforts should result in them being relegated to officiating scrabble games. “Headupassitis!…Triple word score!” Wait a minute…upon further review, the ruling on the game board is that there is no such word as Headupassitis. Thus, we will revert to simply being called blind.