As Aaron Rodgers walked off the field on Monday night, he passed a middle aged fan with a wry smile on his face. The smile was not that of a man who had watched his team effortlessly win the game, but rather the facetious look of a fan who knew his team had just gotten away with one.
While Monday night's controversial touchdown ruling will go down as one of the biggest blown calls of all time, sadly it is but one of many officiating blunders in what will go down as one of the NFL's strangest seasons. Missed P.I.'s, improper ball spotting, and inadequate clock supervision were just the tip of the iceberg in this week's Titanic like, ref-gate disaster, prompting many associated with the game to call for an end to this farce.
Players, coaches and pundits alike risked fines and suspensions as they berated the interim refs via Twitter, Facebook and talk radio. Even Rodgers stepped up to the plate, ripping the NFL a new one on Milwaukee's ESPN 540 AM, "Their willingness to use replacement officials who aren't up to the task is a sign that the league cares more about money than it does about tarnishing the game," strong words from one of the leagues biggest stars.
Thankfully, Goodell has heard the masses, and in an effort to save the brand, has expedited negotiations with the ref's union. So as the replacement ref saga comes to an end, I thought it'd be constructive to take a look back at the bounty of bad calls handed out.
Here are my top five:
5. Colt's Get An Extra Down vs. The Vikings
Towards the end of the first quarter, the Colts ran a first down play, after which a dead ball personal foul was called. The penalty was then marked off, but the officials replayed the down, giving Indianapolis a bonus down. Nothing like a free play.
4. Quarter Ends, Officials Don't Notice
In last week's San Francisco/Detroit game, Alex Smith led a late first quarter drive to the Lions eight yard line. As the clock ran down, fans screamed for him to get it off, for the officials, there was no rush. The clock clearly went down to zero before Smith threw it to the end zone, prompting Al Michaels to say "I think the game clock went to zero..."
3. The Missing Minutes of the Cleveland/Cincinnati Game
Either the refs had faulty whistles or the clock guy isn't a fan of scabs. Twice in the first half the clock continued to run when it shouldn't have, causing the Browns to run out of time on a drive. This game was decided by one touchdown, I wonder what the Browns could have done with an extra minute in the second quarter...
2. Ravens Kick a Game Winning Field Goal?
As the clock expired on Sunday night's low scoring AFC game, Bill Belichick raced onto the field and grabbed one of the replacement refs. His reason? No one knew if the kick actually went over the goal post! His penalty: $50,000.
1. M.D. Jennings Game Winning Interception Touchdown...
What more can be said about this controversial play? Aside from the fact that Golden Tate clearly should have been called for offensive pass interference, it doesn't even appear that he had the ball to his chest. As $150 million dollars in bets swayed from one side to the other, Seattle coach Pete Carroll was quoted as saying, "My hats off to the officials." Kudos to you, Pete. Kudos to you.
Video for #3-5 here via Deadspin.