Week 2 of the NFL featured a lot of storylines, like the Dolphins continuing to execute a perfect tank, Ben Roethlisberger getting knocked out for the season and Jalen Ramsay trying to fight his head coach. Thanks to this, one important issue has largely been getting swept under the rug – how bad the referees are. Now I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of, “Wow hot take Sherlock,” and “Blown calls happen, deal with it.”
You’re absolutely right, but in this case, it is something that is easily avoidable.
In the game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, a little over halfway through the second quarter Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson knocked the ball out of Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s hand. His teammate and All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan scooped up the fumble and took it all the way to the endzone for six.
Except there was one problem – the score didn’t count. Why? Well, the referees blew the play dead, calling it an incompletion instead of a fumble. When the play went to a review, they reversed the call on the field, ruling it a fumble recovered by the defense. Yes, they did correct it by giving the ball to New Orleans, but it should have been a touchdown. The Saints, who were at this point being led by Teddy Bridgewater due to the injury to Drew Brees, turned the ball over on downs on the resulting drive.
They should have had at least six, most likely seven points, but instead, they ended up with nothing. Did this cost them the game? Probably not. They were completely dominated in the second half, getting outscored 21-6, but you never know how a score of 10-3 Saints heading into halftime instead of 6-3 Rams would have affected the momentum of the entire game.
Now while this is the blown call that has been making all the headlines, would you be shocked to find out that this was not the only one of the week?
During the Chicago Bears-Denver Broncos game, the Broncos were down late but driving, needing seven points to tie the game. Flacco tried to find Emmanuel Sanders just short of the goal line, but cornerback Kyle Fuller jumped the route and picked it off. He took the interception to the house, juking out Sanders along the sideline in the process. Except he didn’t, because when Fuller got past Sanders, the ref on that sideline blew the play dead, saying he stepped out of bounds. The problem was Fuller was never out of bounds, and his knee never touched the ground. It should have been a pick-six, making the score 20-6 (extra point assumed) with under five minutes left in the game, essentially sealing it.
Instead, the Broncos got the ball back, scored a touchdown, converted a two-point attempt and took the lead with 31 seconds left on the clock. Luckily for the refs, the Bears bailed them out, driving 40 yards in 30 seconds to set up a game-winning 53-yard field goal attempt that kicker Eddy Pineiro nailed.
It shouldn’t have been that close. The Bears should have easily won the game, but instead, the refs inserted themselves into the game and nearly cost a team a win. They very well could have done just that to the Saints, but we’ll never know for sure. The worst part about this whole thing is that it is such an easy solve.
Refs, just – and I know this sounds crazy, but – just don’t stop play if there’s any chance the call could be wrong. On possible turnovers, let the action play out unless it’s clear that it’s not a turnover or the player is undeniably down by contact or out of bounds. If any replay might be needed to confirm the call, wait until the play is finished, it’s that simple!
If it ends up not being a turnover, you can just reverse the call. However, if you prematurely blow the play dead, you can’t fully correct the call like they could if they just let it run out. It’s. That. Simple.
Blown calls happen, referees are human, but this is a mistake that just shouldn’t be made. Figure it out, Foot Locker.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.firstname.lastname@example.org.