The officiating in the NFL has been extremely poor this year and the flaws continue to come out. This Monday Night was a true showing of how bad the officiating can get. During a tie game in the third quarter of the Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots Monday Night Football game, an inadvertent whistle was blown on a play where Brady connected with his wide receiver, Danny Amendola, on what many believed could have been a touchdown. Instead the play was blown dead because the line judge blew his whistle forcing head referee Gene Steratore to stop the play. The refs awarded the Patriots the 14-yard catch by Amendola and 15 more yards because of a sideline interference penalty on the Bills coaching staff.
There are many things wrong with this situation alone. First, if the play was blown dead then Amendola should not have awarded the 14-yard catch. The whistle was blown before he caught the ball as many believed it was because Tom Brady stepped out of bounds before he threw the ball but when they realized this wasn’t the case an inadvertent whistle was the explanation. Second, the penalty on the Bills for sideline interference seemed like an obvious make-up call for costing the Patriots a possible touchdown. Could you imagine if that was called against Bill Belichick and the Patriots? How many people would be screaming that this is the proof the NFL is in a conspiracy with the New England Patriots? Who the penalty was called on should not neglect the fact that the entire situation was completely ridiculous and the refs handled it about as horribly as possible.
Dean Blandino, the NFL’s Vice President of officiating told NFL Network after the game that “it was a mistake” and “the whistle should not have been blown”. He went on to praise the officials for doing a good job of handling the situation after it happened though. As I mentioned earlier though, the controversy was that the refs gave the Patriots the ball where Amendola caught it and whistled it dead there. But the whistle was blown while the ball was in the air and the rule is actually that the ball comes back to where the ball was thrown or they redo the play on an inadvertent whistle while the ball is in the air. Rex Ryan was upset after the game because he argued that all his players stopped and that is why the ball was completed in the first place. Head ref, Gene Steratore, said they felt the whistle was blown while the ball was in the air and awarded the Patriots the catch. Inadvertent whistles are not reviewable unfortunately so the play was never looked at.
This is just the latest issue that comes on Monday Night Football this year, in week four the Seattle Seahawks obviously illegally batted a ball out of the end zone that won them a game against Detroit. Then in week 5 in the Steelers vs. Chargers game, the refs let 18 seconds run off the game clock without noticing. Lets also not forget the famous replacement referee game between the Seahawks and the Packers that occurred on Monday Night Football. One ref ruled the play a safety and another ruled it a touchdown and in the end they gave the Seahawks a touchdown, which won them the game.
This last blown call has many people wondering what it will take for the NFL to fix the clear officiating issue going on in the league right now. Once again, if this play had happened the other way around and benefited the Patriots we can only wonder how much outrage would have came from it. The NFL will certainly have to answer some questions this week on why we continue to see blown calls like this.