Sounding off on the Replacment Refs

Can someone please tell these f—-ing zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work !!!!

This is how you know the officiating in last night's game was bad – the New England Patriots actually acknowledged it.  Bill Belichick's teams are usually as tight-lipped and vanilla as they come, but after last night's screw job, the players couldn't help but vent.  Only Tom Brady managed to keep it under control and toe the politically correct line.  Belichick himself kept things under wraps in the post-game presser, but his actions immediately following the game spoke volumes. 

I realize that I've already gone off on one tirade last night about the officiating, but after tossing and turning until well past 2am last night, there is still some more that needs to come off my chest.  Feel free to ignore this if you don't want to hear the rest of the rant, but here goes…

I will fully admit that the officiating was bad all around.  The Ravens got screwed on a decent amount of plays themeselves.  However, when it comes to game-altering, drive-saving plays, it was the Patriots who got hosed time and time again.   Last night, I mentioned the egregiously awful offensive pass-interference call on Julian Edelman that killed a potential touchdown drive for New England.  That was just the tip of the iceberg for him.  What about the next play where Edelman was punched in the helmet multiple times by the defender without a call?  What about when Edelman was nailed in the head in the endzone early in the game without a whistle?  What about the Ravens first touchdown drive, where the Pats had them three-and-out, only to have the referee call pass interference on Jerod Mayo after Flacco threw the ball on the dirt?  What about the 27 times that Chandler Jones was horsecollared by Michael Orr? What about the two phantom illegal contact penalties on Devin McCourty to keep scoring drives alive? 

These are not botched calls that are in any way arguable.  Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth were pointing them out as well.   To quote Collinsworth after those two McCourty calls…

"Wow…     wow…     …    …Keep negotiating fellas."

"Apparently that referee has x-ray vision to be able to see that Devin McCourty was holding his jersey."

When it all was said and done, the biggest beefs that Baltimore had was that Ed Reed shouldn't have been penalized for his brutally dangerous hit on Deion Branch late in the game.  Harbaugh's 15 yard unsportsmanlike was pretty bogus as well.  The bottom line is that the referees were clearly being influenced by the feverish home crowd and the Pats paid the price. 

When the calls don't go your way, you can always do more to rise above them.  The Pats didn't get it done.  Still, it's hard for me to get on the defense for not stopping the Ravens multiple times on the same drive.  The Ravens are a top-notch team.  These aren't the Cleveland Browns that the Pats were playing last night.  They would stop Baltimore on third down, only to have the refs hand the Ravens a fresh set of downs with their flags.  It was no coincidence that last night, there were the most penalties that resulted in first downs in NFL history.  NFL history, folks.

And then on further review…

There's no way that last field goal was good.   The Ravens missed the kick and the refs missed the call.   Going to bed, I chalked it up to an impossibly close call that the refs gave to the home team.  However, this morning, I found out that my understanding of the rule was wrong.  I thought a field goal above the uprights was treated similarly to a touchdown, in that if the ball broke the plane of the uprights, even if it was just a small fraction of the ball, then it was a good kick.   If that was the case, then you could certainly sell me that a piece of that football passed inside the uprights, or at least that it was too close to definitively say either way.

However, that is NOT the way it works…

Rule 11 Section 4 Article 2 "The entire ball must pass through the vertical plane of the goal, which is the area above the crossbar and between the uprights or, if above the uprights, between their outside edges. If the ball passes through the goal, and returns through the goal without striking the ground or some object or person beyond the goal, the attempt is unsuccessful."

There's no way that the entire football was between the outer edges of the post. No way.

So there, I've vented.  I feel better.  I'm moving on. 

The Patriots are two back on Houston, and essentially two back on Baltimore, thanks to the tie-breaker, for one of the bye weeks.  Ideally, you'd want to claim the #1 seed, less for home-field advantage, but more to have Baltimore and Houston beat up on each other in the divisional round.  Whoever gets that #2 seed will likely have a bear of a game to survive before heading to the conference championship.  The #1 seed will have a much nicer road. 

It's a little premature to be mapping this out after Week 3, but that's what happens when you start 1-2.  Houston still has to play Green Bay, Chicago, Baltimore, and New England.  Baltimore still hast to play Houston, Pittsburgh twice, Denver, Dallas, San Diego, and Cincinnati.  My take away from this is that the margin for error has become extremely thin, but that the Pats are certainly still in the running for that top spot.   The absolutely must take care of business when they play Houston.  And if they do their job against the rest of the league, they can probably lose their game to San Francisco and still be ok.   To get the top seed, the Pats will need to go 12-1 the rest of the way, assuming that one isn't to the Texans. 

Buckle up your chinstraps, boys.  It's Monday morning.  Time to go to work.

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.